NEW Ginebra import Gabe Freeman admitted going on a three-week crash buildup to get into top shape after being away from top-level competition for six whole months.
But now that he's here, Freeman is not ready to go home as quickly as he arrived.
The two-time Best Import awardee came up short in his Ginebra debut on Sunday night in a 101-105 overtime loss to Rain or Shine, leaving the Gin Kings in a do-or-die playoff with twice-to-beat Talk 'N Text in the quarterfinal round of the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Freeman, however, guaranteed that Ginebra - winner of just three of nine games in a campaign that has seen it change import three times - will not fade away quick in the playoffs.
“Yeah, I am not finishing this tour with just two games. We’ll play two more games and we’ll gonna win two games,” said Freeman, who had previous stints with San Miguel Beer and Barako in the pro league.
“Just two games, and we will gonna win two games. And then we’ll gonna go to the semis and we’ll gonna win the semis. Then we will go to the championship and win the championship. That’s the whole plan.”
Freeman had an explosive start to his first game with Ginebra, scoring 17 points right in the first quarter and 23 by the half. But he scored just six points the rest of the way as he finished with 29 to go with 17 boards.
The 6-6 import refused to blame lack of match fitness for the dip in his scoring late in the game, saying he tried to involve his teammates more in the second half.
“First quarter, I came out and I was on fire. If you’re on fire like that, you gotta shoot the ball," he said. “Second half, I had a little drought, but I was trying to get my teammates involved.
"I’m not a selfish player. By any means I could have shot the ball at the second half but I am not like that.”
Freeman was honest enough to admit that he did not play competitive ball for six months owing to a hand injury that required a long therapy and recuperation period.
The Ginebra import said he whipped himself into shape for three weeks after initially getting the call to take over from Leon Rodgers, who was eventually replaced by former Los Angeles Laker Josh Powell.
The Ginebra door opened for Freeman when Powell opted out of his Ginebra contract to play for the Houston Rockets in the NBA.
“I am just letting it go. This is my first game back. I haven’t played in six months, I wanted to make sure I still have the wind and I have my legs under me and it’s good,” added the 28-year-old.
“I am already back (in top shape). I played 40 (to) 44 minutes tonight. And I feel pretty good. And my teammates played pretty well, we lost the game by three points. What more can you ask for?
“My conditioning is good. I had a great game tonight. I was gonna go out there and play this game like I did tonight. I am satisfied, of course I always want to win. But we gotta go back to drawing board and start all over again.”
Now he intends to stay around.
“I am not just content with playing two games," Freeman said. "I am trying to go to the championship and be the import that I am."