SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Arvin Tolentino churned out a career-best performance in the first PBA semifinal game of his career.
Barangay Ginebra will be needing more of that from the rookie big man if it is to go all the way to the Philippine Cup championship.
With reliable gunner Jeff Chan listed as day-to-day case in their semifinals series against the Meralco Bolts, coach Tim Cone expects Tolentino to step up the way he did in the team’s 96-79 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-five series.
The Kings’ first-round pick in last year’s draft had 13 points and five rebounds in the semis opener, highlighted by a 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range.
Cone was left impressed, but emphasized the rookie now has to do it on a consistent basis with the Kings a man down following the hamstring injury suffered by the 37-year-old Chan.
“He played the way we expected. We think he has an exciting future ahead of him, but that future needs to be now, especially with Jeff injured,” said Cone on Thursday.
Tolentino averaged just 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in all games during the eliminations.
But finally given the opportunity, the former Far Eastern University star showcased what he could exactly do with his crafty shooting rare for a Filipino player who stands 6-foot-5.
“Arvin I thought really played well in spreading the floor for us, he hit some key plays out there,” Cone noted.
Now that he’s been able to somehow gain the trust of Cone, a lot more is needed from him as the Kings look to make it back to the all-Filipino finals after three years.
“He is a high character kid who is embracing his opportunity,” said the 62-year-old mentor. “We expect to get even more from him as the playoff progress.”