NORMAN Black, one of the greatest imports ever to play in the PBA, was the first one to admit Keith Benson hardly made an impression in his first game as Talk `N Text reinforcement in the Commissioner’s Cup Saturday night.
The 6-foot-11 Benson logged 36 minutes and finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and two shotblocks in his league debut. But he fouled out with still three minutes left in the game which the Tropang Texters went on to lose, 92-99, against sister-team Meralco.
“I wasn’t that impressed because he got into foul trouble. We can’t afford him to be on the bench,” Black, the Talk `N Text coach, intimated to Spin.ph, even as his team missed the services of injured big man Ali Peek (knee) and Kelly Williams, whose flight from the US was delayed due to bad weather.
Without Benson late in the game, Meralco’s hard-working import Eric Dawson went on a scoring tear and put an end to Talk ‘N Text’s fourth-quarter run.
In contrast, Dawson had an explosive debut for the Bolts by tallying 16 of his game-high 37 points in the final period, on top of 14 rebounds, and four block shots.
Selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round (48th overall)l in the 2011 NBA draft, Benson arrived in the country more than a week ago and has been sweating it out with the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the Moro Lorenzo gym while the reigning Philippine Cup champions were on a break.
The 24-year-old Benson had a three-game stint on a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors last season.
But he had a more defined role while playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and later on the Erie Bayhawks in the NBA D-League, posting career-averages of 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 27.7 minutes of play.
Black also noted that being the last team to prepare for the import-laden tournament, it was pretty obvious the Tropang Texters struggled to keep pace with the well-conditioned Bolts.
“We need to get in shape. We only had eight days of practice,” admitted the multi-titled coach as the Tropang Texters went on a 10-day break after winning the Philippine Cup championship for the third straight season.
“But we’ll utilize this week to get back in shape in time for our game on Friday.”
The Tropang Texters are coming off a sensational 4-0 sweep of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the All-Filipino Finals.