RR Garcia out to prove that he can be as good with Star as he was at Phoenix
RR Garcia is the middle of a breakout season that has seen him average career-highs of 17.5 points on 2.1 three-point conversions, 3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 32.2 minutes in 19 games with the Fuel Masters in the first two conferences. Jaime Campos

RR Garcia is hoping to sustain his offensive gains from his stint with Phoenix, but admitted he will have to work on his defensive game if he hopes to impress in a Star side teeming with good backcourt players.

The three-year playmaker is the middle of a breakout season that has seen him average career-highs of 17.5 points on 2.1 three-point conversions, 3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 32.2 minutes in 19 games with the Fuel Masters in the first two conferences.

But he was surprisingly traded to the Hotshots, along with Keith Jensen and Rodney Brondial, last month to reinforce a Hotshots guard rotation led by Mark Barroca, Alex Mallari and Justin Melton.

“Sana mapatunayan ko rin dito sa Star kung ano yung ginawa ko sa kabila (na team),” Garcia told SPIN.ph after one practice, enjoying his stay so far in his third week with the squad.

“Depende naman sa coach yun kung gagamitin ka o hindi,” he added. “Unang-una, sa practice naman makikita 'yun kung gagamitin ka o hindi. Syempre, kailangan mo rin magsipag.”

[See Webb sees learning curve after Star blows big lead against Phoenix in tune-up]

The former UAAP MVP out of Far Eastern University admitted he will have to focus on his defense first for a Hotshots side shining bright with offense stars James Yap, PJ Simon, and Barroca.

“Ang daming superstar dito, so sa una, role player ako dito. Syempre, ang daming scorer,” Garcia said. “Hindi ka naman pwedeng makisabay sa kanila ng iskoran. Syempre, unang priority ko ay defense.”

“Sabi nga ni coach (Jason Webb) na kung hindi ka makapaglaro ng defense, hindi ka makakapaglaro sa loob ng court,” he added. “Kaya yun, talagang pinaghahandaan ko.”

And the 26-year-old combo guard is not complaining about being relegated back a role player after seeing his star shine with the Fuel Masters.

“Oo naman (tanggap ko),” the 5-foot-11 guard said. “Kasi hindi naman puro offense lang dapat ang isang player eh kaya kailangan baguhin.”

Garcia has gotten a lot of help from former FEU teammate Barroca during the transition.

“As a leader sa team, si Mark sinasabi niya sa akin kung ano yung pagkukulang ko,” Garcia said. “Kailangan mo rin mag-improve,” he added. “Hindi pwede steady lang. kailangan mo umangat rin.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos