AS he faced up after catching the ball from the foul line, Joshua Smith was given some space, with the Ginebra defense probably thinking the burly TNT import could hardly do damage from that far away from the paint.
Instead, the 6-foot-9, 330-pound Smith flashed his deceiving quickness as he dribbled once and spun left through Japeth Aguilar then threw down a two-handed slam over a reaching Justin Brownlee in the third quarter of Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series.
If he can attack from the midrange apart from asserting his might down low, what can Smith not do?
Brownlee is pressed for ways to stop the Gin Kings’ main conundrum, hoping coach Tim Cone would have an answer a day after their 100-94 loss on Sunday night.
“He’s a dominant force in the paint, so uh, we have to maybe do something different, maybe something, I don’t know,” Brownlee said. “But we go to practice tomorrow. Coach Tim will have something for us. We’re going to look forward to that.”
Aguilar, Joe Devance, and Dave Marcelo took turns in trying their best to stay in front of Smith, who still came away with 35 points, 13 boards, four assists, and two steals in just 28 minutes off the bench.
So should Brownlee, who carried most of the offensive load for the Gin Kings with 24 points on 11-of-20 shooting, 14 boards, six assists, and two steals, without a turnover in 43 minutes, also take a crack at defending Smith?
It’s not the “how” that Brownlee’s concerned. The do-it-all Gin Kings reinforcement is simply hoping they can.
“We gotta get hold of Smith better,” the 6-foot-5 Brownlee said. “You know, he’s not playing his minutes, but when he’s in there, he’s pretty much unstoppable. That’s number one.”
“And then, we just have to get our rhythm back on offense,” he added. “I don’t think we did a great job on offense today. We’re moving the ball. But with our continuity, we didn’t do very well.”
“Those two things, I think we'll be okay,” he concluded ahead of Game Two on Tuesday night.