Kings can only get better

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Kings can only get better

Post by Ginebra Tambayan on Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:41 am

Kings can only get better

GINEBRA’s new acquisitions may someday prove the trust placed in them is well worth it.

For now, trust the Kings’ old reliables to carry the brunt for the perennial crowd favorites in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign.

The likes of Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand and balik-import Chris Alexander stood at the forefront of Ginebra’s attack as the Kings escaped with an 84-82 cliffhanger of a win over Petron Blaze last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Helterbrand emerged as the game’s biggest hero by burying a difficult buzzer-beating jumper, but Caguioa and Alexander did more than their fair share in helping the Kings triumph before some 12,000 fans.

As is his wont, Alexander finished with 21 points and 24 rebounds although he was still far from being in top shape while Caguioa wound up with 17 points and nine boards.

Coach Siot Tanquingcen’s best praises were aimed at Helterbrand and rightfully so after the latter drained a double-clutch jumper while being challenged by Petron import Nick Fazekas in the thrilling finish to the contest that started like it was going to be a sleeper.

"The (last) play was designed for Jayjay, pero nasa player talaga iyon," said Tanquingcen. "No matter how good we drew the play, kung hindi magawa ng player wala din. Kaya nga I praise God for blessing me with players like Jayjay. That was really a big-time shot."

The former MVP, who has opted to sign up with Ginebra on a per-conference basis, also turned an earlier drawn-up play into a quick basket that gave the Kings an 80-79 edge before Willy Wilson atoned for an illegal pick with a defensive rebound and two charities that made it a three-point game, 20.0 seconds left.

Former Purefoods/B-Meg forward Kerby Raymundo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds while ex-Barako Bull wingman Dylan Ababou only had two points but helped harass Arwind Santos into a miss inside the last minute.

Their time will come, promised Tanquingcen, although he admitted he doesn’t know yet when.

"It’s hard to say now, at least this early," said Tanquingcen. "Ang mga materials nandiyan na and we will try and mix them (into the system) somehow, try to mix them together.

"Nag-upgrade ng konti sa personnel, pero we all know hindi sa papel nakikita iyan. If we don’t perform, useless din ang pag-upgrade."

Petron should take heed. Fazekas debuted with a tournament-high 37 points and also had 17 rebounds and Rabeh Al-Hussaini finally returned from an injury-forced layoff since last season, but only Chris Lutz was the other double-digit scorer for the Boosters with 13.

A legitimate NBA campaigner with the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers, the 6-foot-10 Fazekas went 13-for-27 from the field and his second triple for the night knotted the game up at 82, time down to the final 3.9 seconds.

The scary finish was a far cry from what was widely expected after Ginebra raced to an early 22-point lead, prompting Tanquingcen to heave a deep sigh of relief.

"The good thing about it, somehow, we were able to come back and pull it through," he said.

Almost proving fatal for the Kings and nearly offsetting their 67-42 advantage off the boards were their 20 turnovers, eight more than the Boosters.

"We turned the ball over too much," said Tanquingcen. "We were hurting ourselves. In every turnover we had, transition agad sila. That’s something we really need to fix."

Also needing to be remedied is the physical condition of Alexander, adjudged the Best Import after powering Ginebra to the 2008 Fiesta Conference crown. The seven-footer got laid off for nearly nine months but his mind-set can never be questioned, according to the coach.

"I can’t say enough of him," said Tanquingcen. "Admittedly, he came in not in the best of shape but he worked himself back somehow. Makikita mo naman sa attitude niya, kahit sa practice. He encourages the players, even runs extra.

"Ang kanya parang attitude ng Ginebra, na lalaban siya."


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