UNDER-FIRE Barangay Ginebra import Leon Rodgers remained defiant and focused on the things he can control as names of rumored replacements started to float in the wake of the team's back-to-back losses in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
The former Northern Illinois standout has averaged impressive numbers of 31 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his first three games in the league, but his woeful shooting and inability to lead Ginebra to victory against San Miguel Beer and San Mig have sparked calls for an import change.
Already, team insiders bared Ginebra is looking at a list of options although he was quick to point out that no concrete decision has been made.
Amid the guessing game, Rodgers has vowed to fight on, saying the constant scrutiny and pressure he is facing "comes with the territory" as he plays for the popular Gin Kings who he described as the "(New York) Yankees of the Philippines."
“It comes with the territory of playing with a high-profile team like this," said Rodgers. "I can’t really think about that stuff, I gotta go out and give my best effort every game.”
To listen to complete interview with Leon Rodgers, click here.
The three-time MVP of the Dutch league said fans have only seen a little of what he can do.
“I think, the fans saw a little bit of what I can do. I just got to keep getting better. It’s Ginebra and we want wins. I want wins, too. I came here to win a championship. That’s my goal,” he added.
Still, Rodgers said he is prepared for any eventuality, that is why he is "playing each game as if it is his last."
“It comes with the territory. If a team is losing like what Ginebra is going through now, you expect it. This is the Yankees of the Philippines,” he said while shrugging his shoulders. “It’s the Philippines, you got to make sure that you get the desired results as hard as you can.”
“Somebody has to take the blame. So what I have to do is keep working and keep my teammates going and they get better, I get better, the team gets better,” he said.
Rodgers said he can't afford to worry about things he can't control, like the news over his impending exit.
“I can’t worry about that. I just gotta keep doing my job!”
So what is the problem with a star studded Ginebra team?
“I don’t know, they’re my teammates. You will never hear me put the blame on them. I am trying my best, they are trying their best,” he said after Ginebra's 90-80 loss to San Mig.
Meanwhile, Ginebra star wingman Chris Ellis doesn’t want to put the blame on their import, instead urging his fellow locals to wake up and help out on offense.
“Unfortunately, it’s him that’s being blamed. The man, he does work. He’s a smart player, he’s a veteran. Leon is a great player. He can score, he can pass,” said Ellis.
“I think we (locals) just have to be more confident. We’re relying too much on him. Everybody just have to be a threat,” added the second-year player.
Another Ginebra star player who asked not to be named also came to Rodgers' defense, saying: ‘It’s only him who’s scoring, so what should we expect."