KIA coach Chris Gavina again questioned his team’s desire and effort that was obviously missing in the team’s 120-99 loss to Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night.
While implying that their talent level can’t win it alone, the young coach believes they can compete by pushing his players to their limit in terms of effort.
“As you know as players, majority of the players – unless you really push them to reach higher levels – they'll be content with setting a ceiling for themselves,” Gavina said as he emerged from the dugout following an almost two-hour meeting with his players and staff.
“And that's my role as their coach, I have to be able to uncap their ceiling and make them believe that they can play at a high level than they're playing at right now.”
And they have no choice – considering the talent level they’re up against every single game.
“There’s not layover in talent,” Gavina conceded. “We got Meralco next, who’s just as good as Ginebra or even better since they beat them. And if we come in with the effort level and the lack of belief and ability to compete and win, we’ll get smashed again.”
That was exactly what he told the team inside the dugout, Gavina said.
“I don’t sugarcoat things,” he added. “I told them that straight up – if they don’t come in with a level of belief these next three days in practice, and the effort, and the desire to hold each other accountable in order for us to succeed, we may not win a game this whole conference.”
Gavina, however, stressed that he’s not giving up, although hinting again that he’ll only rely on players who will show enough effort.
“I told them also, I am not a quitter,” Gavina said. “It’s not in my nature, and so the guys who aren't willing to jump on that train with me will get left behind, and I have no qualms about it.”
“If they're gonna run, and catch up to where I want them to go, well I'm gonna bring the guys who are willing to pay that sacrifice and give me that extra mile and come with me to where I know we can go,” he added.
Asked if there are upcoming player movements, Gavina is open to the idea, but would rather make do with what he has for now.
“We’re in-season, so I’m really focused on solution-based mindset, so if it comes to that, I think it’s something that I’ll have to definitely discuss with management on what do we need, and what needs to be done,” Gavina said. “But right now, my focus is trying to get fifteen guys to really just believe in themselves and what I’m trying to preach to them.”
Gavina is also hoping for Markeith Cummings to step up after the Picanto import was held to just 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting in 34 minutes.
“For me, he has to be able to adapt,” Gavina said. “He knows he’s the main focal point of our offense and there are times when he gets flustered as well. I can’t put all the blame on him, but everyone knows that in an import-reinforced conference, a lot of the team’s success is based on the level or the quality of the import’s success.
“With his performance tonight, we won’t be able to beat anyone if he keeps repeating this kind of performance,” he added.