BARANGAY Ginebra coach Ato Agustin stood by his decision to stick with five players who finished the PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against NLEX on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.
Agustin decided to keep the quintet of LA Tenorio, Jayjay Helterbrand, Greg Slaughter, Mac Baracael, and import Michael Dunigan for the most part of the payoff period when the Kings squandered a big lead and led to their downfall against the Road Warriors, 96-90.
“Wala na eh, nandun na sila eh. Naka-on the go na. Maganda na 'yung nilalaro nung (nasa court), so hindi na ako nag-gamble,” the Ginebra coach insisted.
Although the group delivered early as the Kings posted a 76-68 advantage after a Baracael triple with a little over a minute gone by in the final quarter, the Kings slowly saw the Road Warriors claw their way back behind the hot hands of Al Thornton, who capped a 50-point night with some big baskets down the stretch.
At the same time, Agustin defended his decision to sit prized acquisition Joseph Yeo the entire fourth period. The streak-shooting guard wound up scoreless in a game for just the second time this conference.
Averaging 7.3 points and 21.1 minutes of playing, the shooting guard out of De La Salle only played for a total of eight minutes.
Agustin stressed he didn’t field Yeo during that crucial stretch of the game since he stuck with a two-point guard set-up in Tenorio and Helterbrand.
“Wala namang dahilan,” Agustin said. “Kasi nag-two point guard lineup rin kami, tsaka si Jayjay ang ganda ng laro niya.”
Helterbrand, playing his first game in over a month after being sidelined with an injury, did have five assists, but scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting and added a steal in 25 minutes of play.
Agustin also made the decision to Baracael defend the red-hot Thornton one-on-one in the crucial stretch before giving way to Chris Ellis when it was too late.
The Ginebra coach instead blamed the team’s collapse not on its lineup, but on three crucial turnovers that NLEX turned into a 14-1 salvo and flipped the game around.
“We committed three crucial turnovers that NLEX all converted,” Agustin said. “We need to learn para ma-protektahan ang lead namin.”