DESPITE his woeful shooting, Leon Rodgers believed Barangay Ginebra’s failure to control the boards contributed to the team’s downfall against San Mig Coffee during the two teams’ highly-anticipated showdown Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The 33-year-old former Northern Illinois stalwart noted the 62-48 discrepancy in rebounding between the Kings and Mixers, most of which came in the fourth quarter when San Mig pulled away from what had been a tightly-fought contest until that stage.
“The fourth quarter became a lot more frustrating with all the offensive rebounds they (Mixers) got out there. I think that’s the reason why we lost,” rued Rodgers, who finished with 35 points and 14 rebounds.
The Kings battled the Mixers almost on equal footing during the first three quarters, but failed to sustain the effort in the payoff period that led to a disappointing 80-90 loss, their second straight in three outings.
“I think we identified our problem. I think the first two and a half quarters, you saw a different Ginebra out there,” the 6-foot-5 import said, while admitting he battled pain in his foot during the team’s first two games.
“We played harder, with a lot more effort. However, we broke down when we needed to be the toughest most.”
And that can’t be the case for the league’s most popular team as the competition in the mid-season conference gets tougher, with elite teams such as Talk ‘N Text, Rain or Shine, and Meralco all waiting in line to test the Kings in the succeeding weeks.
Rodgers took 33 attempts to get his total output, which was close to half of Ginebra’s entire 69-field goal attempts in the game.
The former three-time Dutch League MVP said the next few days are critical as the Kings plot their next move to arrest a two-game skid and get their playoff hopes alive in the shortened elimination round format.
“We know what we have to do to win. Now we got to focus on the next game,” he said.
“We got to keep battling in practice and keep identifying what is our weak point.”
Ginebra returns to action on Friday as it takes on winless Globalport in the main game at the Cuneta Astrodome.