AS Barangay Ginebra looked like it was sailing smoothly late in its 115-96 win against Converge on Wednesday night, coach Tim Cone was forced to have a teaching moment after getting upset at Jeremiah Gray for committing an unnecessary offensive foul.
Just two plays after turning the ball over late in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup game at Philsports Arena, the 26-year-old rookie wingman pushed back on a physical Alec Stockton while jockeying for position in an inbound play, prompting the referee to blow the whistle with three minutes and 19 seconds left.
That forced Cone to recall a surprised and resting Scottie Thompson to replace Gray and restore order, before talking to the prized rookie recruit as he retreated to the bench.
Cone on teaching moment with Jeremiah Gray
“If he doesn’t lose his head, keeps his focus on the game, we’ll let him play through his mistakes,” Cone said after the game. “But once the mistakes start to get into his head, he’s going to come down and sit, and kind of compose himself and go back out there and play.”
“He made mistakes multiple times and it wasn’t really physical mistakes. It was more mental mistakes – which all young players do,” he added.
“So yeah, it was a good teaching moment,” the two-time grand slam mentor continued. “He’ll learn from it. And he’s very, very, very coachable, so that’s not an issue at all. And of course, if his skills are in question, anybody watches his skills, everybody knows how good he is."
Gray, who finished with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting, four boards, and four assists against four turnovers in 23 minutes off the bench, acknowledged his error, but explained he got frustrated after trying to protect his knee that just fully healed from ACL surgery a few months ago.
“I feel like they’re trying me to hit me in my knee,” Gray said. “That’s what I thought what they were trying to do. Of course, I don’t know if they were, but, you know, I’m coming off an ACL and they’re bumping my knee right there. Just a little frustrated.”
“But again, it’s very physical in the PBA,” he was quick to add. “I know it’s going to happen, so just got to learn. I’m a rookie still. Just got to learn how to play through it. Stay calm and focused on the game.”
Nevertheless, Gray is always welcome to hear Cone’s wisdom.
“He was just telling me to not let past plays affect the next play and telling me to stay calm,” Gray said. “Don’t be in such a rush. I had a few turnovers at the end of the game and he wanted to let me play through it, but he saw I was getting a bit frustrated.”
“They’re bumping me a little bit. I bumped back, so he wanted me to learn to be calm,” he added. “That’s going to happen in the future. So just stay calm and not let past plays affect the next one.”