THERE was no conscious effort on the part of Gilas Pilipinas to help Gary David break out of his shooting slump in the Fiba-Asia Championship, but guards Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio are still happy to be of assist-ance.
“I felt great to be the one to give him that first bucket,” said Alapag, who actually passed up an open look at the basket and instead fed David for a lay-up late in a 90-71 win over Japan on Monday night. “Sometimes, it’s just what you need.”
The confidence back, David, who has taken a lot of heat from fans for shooting bricks in the national team's first three games, soon hit his first three-pointer thanks to Tenorio, who faked a drive and found the Globalport star wide open on the deep right corner.
Alapag feels that it is only normal for a natural scorer like David to slump at times.
“I think sometimes, when you are a great scorer and a great shooter, everybody struggles sometimes and you just don’t know when the ball is going in,” said Alapag.
David was noticeably given more playing minutes in the game but national coach Chot Reyes and assistant coach Nash Racela said that getting the misfiring gunner in the groove wasn’t part of the strategy going to the Japan game.
“We just went through our regular routines. We really didn’t talk about it,” said Reyes. “We are always conscious of not overdoing something that we lose our individual games.”
Racela, who was often seated next to David on the bench, said: “Hindi namin pinag-uusapan ‘yun. Sabi ko (sa kanya), just focus on your defense. Kung maganda ang depensa niya, malay natin baka maka-libre ka, makabutas. Kung hindi, at least tama ‘yung ginawa niya.”
Nevertheless, Reyes praised the team for rallying around David, who revealed that he has offered before the game to give up his starting spot to other players who are playing well.
“It’s just a glimpse of the depth of the camaraderie of this group. They look out for each other," said Alapag, who considers David an important piece in the team bidding to land one of three spots for Asia in next year's world championships in spain.
“Gary is our brother and we are all here supporting him. It was a big step in the right direction. We need everybody’s best effort for the rest of the tournament,” said Alapag.