JONAS Villanueva admitted NLEX was caught off guard by Yancy de Ocampo’s timely heroics that carried the San Miguel Beermen past the Road Warriors in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night.
De Ocampo flashed his vintage form and wound up with his best offensive game in four years, pumping in 17 points on top of 12 boards in a season-high 26 minutes that more than made up for June Mar Fajardo’s worst game this conference.
“Medyo (na-surprise). To be honest, talagang hindi namin in-expect,” Villanueva said. “Of course, si June Mar kasi ‘yung focus ng defense namin then there’s Alex (Cabagnot). Talagang good substitution ni coach Leo ‘yun.”
“We were able to hold June Mar and the other guys, kaya lang si Yancy, nagka-problema kami,” the NLEX star point guard added as Fajardo was hobbled with foul trouble all game before fouling out late and ending up with just nine points, the first time the Kraken was held to single-digit scoring this season.
Villanueva believes the Road Warriors should provide more backcourt help for Asi Taulava the same way the SMB guards have been doing for Fajardo.
“Siguro kailangan rin namin tulungan si Asi,” the former Far Eastern University standout said. “Kasi when Asi’s out, ‘yung strength namin is the guards, so kailangan namin mag-adjust na pag wala si Asi. We need to move the ball around, magkaroon kami ng pick-and-rolls — dun kami kukuha ng offense.”
“Kailangan lang namin siguro ma-balance ‘yung offense namin,” added Villanueva, who along with Taulava ended up as the game’s top scorer with 20 points, including the three-pointer that sent the match into overtime.
He also stressed the need for NLEX to start games strong and break a bad trend in their three-game losing streak. The Road Warriors went down early by 20 points in an eight-point loss to Alaska, then came back from 18 points down against GlobalPort before surrendering a six-point edge. Against SMB, they had to claw back up from a 13-point hole, 28-15, to force an extension.
“We have to address our slow start kasi mahirap yung naghahabol ka,” Villanueva said. “Against good teams like San Miguel, nauubos ka rin eh. Kailangan good start agad kami.”