CHRIS Tiu is playing at a whole different level - and it’s certainly rubbing off on his Rain or Shine squad.
Tiu has saved the Elasto Painters so many times this season that his head coach Caloy Garcia has called him ‘immaculate’ for always coming through at crunch time.
That was none more evident than in their 104-94 win over the Blackwater Elite on Friday where Tiu drained four three-pointers in the fourth quarter to complete their gallant comeback.
“I think sa seven games namin, four of it where all Chris Tiu. We can see the guy has heart, immaculate nga ang dating niya kung kailan kailangan saka makaka-shoot, so he’s really been playing well,” said Garcia.
“He’s been working hard, basically he’s become a very good leader for the team,” he added.
Asked by reporters about his collection of clutch baskets, the 32-year old former Ateneo star chuckled, "Wag mo naman batiin, I missed a lot of big shots also."
“Well, someone's got to take them,” he continued.
Tiu said that he’s only making the most of the opportunity given him playing mostly off the ball alongside natural playmakers Gabe Norwood and Maverick Ahanmisi.
With the pair orchestrating the offense, Tiu said that he now has the luxury to sit back and wait to get open.
“For the most part when it's the endgame, I'm usually playing alongside Gabe and Mav, who are great defenders and facilitators and ball handlers. I guess that allows me to focus more on the scoring in a way.
"I don't have to bring down the ball as much, it saves me a lot of energy as well. And somebody's got to do it. Minsan kailangan tapang lang e,” Tiu said while also crediting Garcia for his heroic ways.
“I don't want to claim na I'm immaculate. I made a lot of mistakes also, even the last game against Magnolia, I had a lot of turnovers and coach could have just taken me out but coach Caloy believed in me and kept the faith.”
In eight games, seven of which ROS won, Tiu averaged 12.7 points, 6.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He’s also shooting 45 percent from downtown, the highest percentage among players with atleast five attempts every game.
Whether he admits it or not, this is certainly Tiu’s best conference and it’s apparent that the Elasto Painters are starting to turn into his team, too.
“Is it my best? Maybe. It's the conference where I have been played the most minutes, that's for sure. So, for any player, I guess, it spells the difference. It gives the player a lot of confidence If you know your coach has full trust in you,” said Tiu.
“So far, I don't want to jinx it. Hopefully I can stay healthy and keep on improving.”