MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia called on his local players to step up after the Elasto Painters opened the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup with back-to-back defeats.
A 98-92 loss to Blackwater Elite on Sunday dropped Rain or Shine to 0-2. Garcia got a 27-point effort from import Denzel Bowles, but the performance of his local players left much to be desired for the head coach.
"I challenged the locals 'cause I think we have a good import in Denzel and he's been trying to do his best, but the problem is the production sa locals namin," he noted.
"Nawawala 'yung laro ni (Rey) Nambatac, nawawala laro ni (Javee) Mocon, Jewel (Ponferrada), and even Norbert (Torres)," he added.
Nambatac, Mocon, Torres and Ponferrada combined for just 10 points in the defeat, with Ponferrada going scoreless. Nambatac (0-of-3) and Torres (0-of-4) missed all of their field goals, while Mocon was 2-of-9 from the field.
"Hindi lumalabas ang laro pa nila. So 'yun. It's more of a challenge again for us to try to look for ways to win," said Garcia.
The coach stressed that Bowles is not the problem for Rain or Shine. Indeed, he called the import a "perfect fit for us." Through two games, Bowles is averaging 29 points and 9.5 rebounds, while shooting 54% from the field.
Bowles has also been trying to get his teammates involved. Unfortunately, against Blackwater the Elasto Painters missed too many wide-open shots.
"The locals haven't been making their shots cause if they make their open shots, then it would have been different," he said.
"I think there were certain parts of the game that we played good defense, but 'yun nga, Blackwater was able to hit those big shots in the dying seconds of the shot clock," he added.
"I think it's just about the effort and looking ways to score kasi open shots na nga eh. Denzel's doing his best to pass the ball to the locals."
Garcia is hopeful that his local players will soon find the same form that they had in the All-Filipino Cup, which saw them finish as the second seed in the elimination round and then battle Magnolia in a thrilling seven-game series in the semifinals.
"I just told the players after the game that we’re a totally different team after the series with Magnolia. I just told them that we have to bring back the same fire that we had when we went to the All Filipino semis," he said.
"The way we played in the fourth quarter (against Blackwater), that's how we should be playing the whole game kasi doon lang kami sa fourth, kumbaga doon talaga lumalabas yung depensa," he added.
Rain or Shine will try to get its first win on Friday, when it takes on Barangay Ginebra.
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