TNT KaTropa Nash Racela stood by the team’s decision to stick with Joshua Smith as its import against San Miguel Beer in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
TNT manager Virgil Villavicencio said before the start of the series that Smith, nursing a foot injury he sustained in the semifinals against Ginebra, was questionable to play against the Beermen and it was a certainty that standby import Mike Myers would see action in the title series.
But the Texters stuck with the Smith, the 6-foot-9, 330-pound behemoth who, despite hurting, still proved almost unstoppable when he was on the court.
“No regrets,” Racela said. “It was a collective decision and we knew all along that si Joshua was still our best bet. If he were 100 percent [healthy], it could've been a different story.”
Smith was efficient in relatively limited action as he averaged 16.7 points on 54.1-percent shooting, 9.5 boards, 2.7 assists, one steal, and 0.7 block, against 3.3 turnovers in just 25 minutes, splitting the six-game series as the sixth man and a starter. In comparison, SMB reinforcement Charles Rhodes registered a norm of 33.2 minutes in the Finals.
Still, the TNT coach would pick Smith against in a heartbeat after the hulking import anchored the Texters to their first finals appearance in two years and pulling off two wins in the title series against the mighty Beermen.
“He will be atop our list pag may malalaking imports,” he said.