GABE Norwood refused to pin the blame on Duke Crews, whose sub-par play factored heavily in Rain or Shine’s 84-69 Game Two loss to Star that ended the Elasto Painters’ PBA Commissioner’s Cup title defense.
Crews was the only ROS player to score in double digits with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting that went with five boards, two steals, and one block, but played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble.
But in the ROS import’s absence in those stretches, that’s when the E-Painters looked like they had more chemistry with an all-Filipino lineup.
Asked if the E-Paints could’ve sustained their early run without an import, Norwood instead blamed a few breaks that didn’t go their way in Game Two.
“I don't think so,” Norwood said. “I mean, we played well enough to win. You know, it's just a couple of plays, turnovers down the stretch. We had, I think, cut the lead to six. Then we had a turnover and then they came out and knocked down a three and now it's a three-possession game.
“You know that's the flow of the game, stuff happens,” he added. “But at the same time, a lot of things weren't in our control. No matter who is on the court. It wasn't really in our control.”
Norwood didn’t discount the efforts of Crews, who averaged 20 points, 18.7 boards, 1.7 assists, and one block in 39 minutes in three games in the eliminations after replacing Shawn Taggart.
“I think they took out their import also. It all balanced out, you know, Duke came out,” Norwood said. “He did great work. He gave us energy we needed. He got us to this point.”
Crews’ numbers, though, paled in comparison to that of Star counterpart Ricardo Ratliffe, who registered 26 points, 24 rebounds, five assists, and one block in 43 minutes.
Norwood is hoping for the E-Painters to play with more consistency as a unit in the season-ending Governors Cup.
“A lot of it came down to that,” the veteran point forward said. “Games we've had lapses; In [some] games, it's just energy. Tonight was the same - it's just effort in getting things done. I don't know if that's guys getting tired or you know, getting in the flow of things.
“As long as we play with energy, we're a good team,” he added. “We're tough to beat.”
For now, Norwood is maximizing the conference break at home with his lovely wife Lei, who’s seven months pregnant with their third son.
“So that's due right during the next conference, another boy,” Norwoo bared. “Got a three-on-three team ready.”