AFTER seeing Denzel Bowles score 49 points on 63 percent shooting on Wednesday night, Talk 'N Text coach Jong Uichico was left with a tough predicament heading into Game Two.
“He (Bowles) seemed to be shooting well. He made almost every shot the other day,” said Uichico, whose team took a day off on Good Friday. “If he’s on the go like that, siyempre, he’s gonna be hard to stop for that matter. It’s hard, because the jump shots have been challenged.”
Uichico doesn't expect Bowles to shoot as well when the two sides meet again, but he knows they have to find a way to slow down the in-form Purefoods import if Talk 'N Text will any chance of getting back in the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal series.
Talk ‘N Text import Ivan Johnson was the designated defender in the series-opener, but Bowles got his shooting rhythm early, scoring 18 of the Hotshots’ 33 points as they took an early 16-point lead.
The former James Madison University standout used his two-inch height advantage and his long arms to shoot over Johnson, who went into foul trouble trying to keep up.
Uichico's main problem is that after Johnson, he doesn't have a defender big enough to keep up with Bowles.
Jay Washington, Ranidel de Ocampo and other Talk 'N Text big men had a shot at defending Bowles in Game One, but the Purefoods import was simply unstoppable on a night when he led the Hotshots to a 100-94 victory.
De Ocampo admitted it isn't easy trying to stop a 'much-improved' Bowles.
“Iyung mga first few shots niya, puro challenged shots lahat 'yun. Matangkad eh, shooter din talaga and nag-improve din siya ng mabuti simula nung naglaro siya sa atin,” said De Ocampo.
Uichico said the team had a walk-through of its plays for Game Two on Maundy Thursday and made adjustments on defense to ensure Bowles and the Hotshots won’t have the same explosive start they had the last time out.
“We just have to find a way to defend (Bowles). Ganun lang naman 'yun, but we don’t expect him to shoot 60 perent naman during that game, though of course, we’ll make some adjustments sa next game,” said Uichico.
Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas noticed Talk 'N Text made the same mistake as the Aces, who opted to clog the shaded lane and dare Bowles to beat them from the outside in their quarterfinal series.
The result? Alaska was swept by Purefoods in two games.
To have any success against Purefoods, Alas said that it is imperative that the defense should limit Bowles' touches and crowd him each time he gets the ball.
“Di mo puwedeng bigyan ng kahit konting space. Dapat ika-crowd pa rin siya (Bowles),” observed Alas, incidentally, a former Talk ‘N Text coach from 2000-2001.
“Nung umpisa kasi sinisubukan naming talunin n'ya kami sa labas. Eh it happened, di pala ganun dapat, kundi dapat, i-limit mo ang touches niya. Tapis pag binantayan mo, huwag mo bibigyan ng space,” Alas added.