Air21 coach Franz Pumaren wants Michael Dunigan to be assertive when it matters most.
The Express import scored 26 points and had several rim-rattling dunks during Air21’s 89-86 tune-up victory over Barako Bull, but went without a field goal in the fourth quarter, when the Energy Cola came back from 19 points down and closed in at 77-80 in the final two minutes.
Despite the late scoring drought from the 6-foot-10 University of Oregon product, Pumaren is confident his prized 24-year-old American reinforcement can only get better in the lead-up to the PBA Commissioner's Cup that begins on February 8.
“I think if we have the right combination, he can easily score. I think he can only get better. He’s got a good rapport with his teammates. He’s young and he’s willing to adjust to the local brand of game,” Pumaren told Spin.ph after the tune-up game at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
“But he needs to be more assertive. His role here is different from (his stints in) Europe and Australia where he was just part of the team. Here (in the PBA), we have only one import. So we’ll sit down again and talk about his role,” added the Air21 mentor.
Dunigan admitted he’s still learning how to play the league's physical play and adjusting to his long minutes.
“It’s a so-so first game for me. I’ve been able to play extended minutes but I missed a lot of free throws,” said Dunigan after the game.
“I try to get more wind up and down the floor. And in the fourth quarter, I only had one point, which can’t happen. Our team had a huge slip-up. We had a couple of bad plays, which allowed the other team to come back, so I always need to be more assertive. Everything has to get better and try to improve day by day,” he added.