IT’S not exactly the kind of game Mike Cortez had hoped for in his first outing opposite former team Ginebra.
Unfortunately, just about everything went wrong for him and the Air21 Express.
Just about everything.
The Express were pounded into oblivion by a Kings’ side that can’t seem to do no wrong in a 99-76 beating Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The match-up was the first time Cortez crossed paths with his ex-teammates since being traded away midway in the Philippine Cup for big man Yousef Taha.
Cortez admitted Air21 began the game on the wrong foot and never recovered again.
“We started rather tentative. We we’re never able to run our sets the way we wanted to, and before we knew it, it’s already a 20-point game,” said the `Cool Cat.’ “ It’s hard to make a run against a good defensive team like Ginebra."
The Express, who fell to 4-9 with their fourth straight loss and in danger of missing the playoffs, were totally outplayed by the Kings in just about every aspect of the game. They shot 38 percent from the floor (30-of-79), got clobbered off the boards, 57-46, were badly beaten in the assists department, 26-8, and beaten out in both fastbreak points, 25-8, and turnover points, 21-11.
Cortez himself finished with only seven points on 3-of-8 shooting from the floor. He had six rebounds, but failed to make a single assist.
While there may be a little hype on the match ever since the Kings gave up Cortez, the cerebral point guard out of La Salle said there’s really nothing to it.
“It’s being hyped up, but I just treated it like an ordinary game. All that hype made us a little tight and tentative at the start of the game,” he added, referring to one-time Ginebra players KG Canaleta and John Wilson, both now with Air21.
Even if it was against Ginebra or another team, Cortez said his goal was to help the Express win.
“I really have nothing to prove. I just want to win this game because we’re on a losing streak. This game and the next game (vs. Globalport) will be big ones for us.”
Asked if he had the opportunity to talk with Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen before or after the game, Cortez answered back with a poker face.
“I’ve seen him. But no (I didn’t talk to Tanquingcen).”