Tony Mitchell endears self to Star teammates as he unleashes full arsenal
After deferring to teammates in a tune-up against TNT, import Tony Mitchell unleashed his full arsenal in a Star win over Phoenix on Wednesday. Jerome Ascano

ONE could feel that Tony Mitchell was just taking it easy when he deferred to his Star teammates in the team’s tune-up game against TNT KaTropa last week.

True enough, right in his PBA debut on Wednesday night, the former NBA player showed more aggressiveness and unleashed his entire offensive arsenal as the Hotshots coasted to a 101-82 victory over Phoenix in their Commissioner’s Cup matchup.

While displaying his solid defense with three blocks – two on Phoenix counterpart Jameel McKay, Mitchell scored on an array of moves and finished with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, on top of 16 rebounds, three assists, and one steal, against six turnovers in 37 minutes.

The 6-foot-8 big man even flaunted his outside touch as he knocked down both his attempts from three-point land – to the delight of his teammates, especially Mark Barroca, who stood tallest among the locals.

“Sa practice, hindi niya gaano pinapakita kung anong meron siya. Nagulat nga kami eh, biglang tumitira ng three points,” Barroca said. “Kasi hindi niya talaga ginagawa sa ensayo yun. Sabi nga namin, ‘Meron pala ‘to eh, tinatago niya lang talaga.’

“(Pero) nag-promise naman siya sa amin na pag sa laro na talaga, buhos talaga siya,” he added.

[See Tony Mitchell gives Star fans reason to hope with impressive debut vs Phoenix]

Apart from his skills on both ends, Mitchell also knows how to interact with his teammates.

“May mga ibang import na nasa isang tabi lang, tahimik, may sariling mundo. Ito, nakikipagkulitan sa amin,” Marc Pingris said. “Sa start at pagkatapos ng practice, nakikipagkulitan.

“At pag may sinabi ka, nagpapasalamat. NBA player na yan ah, pero nagpapasalamat sa amin,” he added. “So dun mo makikita na maganda ang attitude niya.”

Pingris, though, believes Mitchell can still show some improvement, particularly with the way he adapts to the officiating.

“Sobrang energy, pero hindi mo pa masabi; kailangan niya pa mag-adjust sa tawagan, and then yung rules natin dito sa PBA,” Pingris said. “Okay siya sa team, dahil nandun naman yung depensa niya at talagang gumagawa siya.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos