GINEBRA parades its third import in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as comebacking Gabe Freeman suits up for the Kings when they faces Rain or Shine in a all-important encounter on Easter Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
High-flying wingman Chris Ellis said with an aggressive Freeman in tow, he expects the Kings to run even more while riding on the returning import’s passion for the game.
“His (Freeman) sporadic energy I think can be contagious for the team. And it (Freeman’s energy) rubbed off on me, since he’s a veteran in this game,” said “Air Force Ellis”.
Freeman is coming over as a late replacement for Josh Powell as he’ll be playing in the Kings’ final game in the single round elimination.
The Kings (3-5) are trying to avoid losing against the Elasto Painters (4-4) in their 5:15 p.m. game as a setback meant going down as the no. 8 seeded team and a quarterfinal pairing against top seeded and unbeaten Talk `N Text, which enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
But despite changing import late in the tournament, Ellis said the Kings have learned to understand that the “up-and-down” experience of pro basketball is but part of PBA life.
“As a team, we understand that all teams have ups and downs. So for us, we just want to stay mentally together and that no matter what, we always want to come together and talk,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is confident the five-day preparation gives the Elasto Painters enough time to work on its defense as it shoots for the all-important win against Ginebra.
Guiao rued the Elasto Painters’ conference-long struggles had a lot to do with the team’s on-and-off defense.
But the fiery mentor said all is not lost for his team, which could enter the playoffs as the no. 4 seeded ballclub should it beat the Kings.
“Yung emphasis talaga namin is more on our consistency in defense. Nag-struggle kasi kami this conference, primarily on playing defense,” Guiao said, after the team’s practice on Black Saturday.
Guiao said he also had a lengthy talk with import Wayne Chism, whose three-game output since replacing Alex McLean includes just 13.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 blocks.
His scoring is the lowest among the 10 imports this conference, including a PBA career-low six points in the team’s 87-82 win over Air21 last Monday.
“His second and third game, nag-slide na siya and that’s a main concern,” said Guiao. “So I talked to him and told him what our expectations are from him and what his role is.”
“Naiintindihan naman niya,” added the veteran Rain or Shine mentor.
“Defensively, he’s been there for us, but again, we also wanted him to be aggressive on offense because we feel he can improve more compared to his last two games.”