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JOSH Urbiztondo had only two days to learn Ginebra's system, but injured star Mark Caguioa’s pointers helped him carry out the multiple roles he had to do in his debut.
Ginebra's newest recruit struggled to find his touch on Saturday night against Rain or Shine but got a much-needed confidence boost from Caguioa, who called out Urbiztondo when he noticed the former Barako Bull starter was starting to become gun-shy.
“He (Caguioa) was saying I was being passive, trying to look for people too much. But when I come off that screen, he was telling me, ‘Don’t be shy, shoot it, if you miss, go back and play defense, but just shoot it. That’s what we do here,’” said Urbiztondo.
Urbiztondo made just two of 11 shots, but he contributed five rebounds, five assists, two steals and the game-long energy Ginebra needed to pull off a come-from-behind 90-83 victory that dragged twice-to-beat Rain or Shine into a do-or-die match on Monday.
The six-foot Fil-Am guard's presence was also felt on defense, both in the times he spelled LA Tenorio at point guard or when he joined the former Ateneo star and veteran Jayjay Helterbrand in a three-guard combo that tormented the Painters in the final stretch.
“I feel good. In fact, LA was happy because I got to relieve him on the point guard spot. He got tired, playing close to 40 minutes (in elimination round),” he added.
“My shot was not falling, but coach (Alfrancis Chua) was telling me to pressure the ball, get the ball out of the (Rain or Shine) guards’ hands till they don’t have anything left. So even if my shot wasn’t falling, I was getting into the teeth of the defense.”
In the end, Urbiztondo, who also had a previous stint with San Mig Coffee, savored the feeling of playing with a huge crowd behind him.
“The fans are just overwhelming. That’s just the never-say-die spirit. I was happy in our first practice. The spirit and vibes was so high, I’ve never seen that spirit before,” he said.
Barangay Ginebra can advance to the semifinals with another win on in their 6:45 p.m. game against Rain or Shine at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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