PUREFOODS is ready to put behind the unfortunate episode it had the past few days as it parades returning import Denzel Bowles when it goes up against Barangay Ginebra in a potentially explosive PBA Commissioner’s Cup game in Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hotshots coach Tim Cone will have three key players sitting out the 5:15 p.m. match due to injuries, but is excited to see Bowles back in a Purefoods uniform after taking over the job left by the banished Daniel Orton, who disgraced the team for his disparaging remarks against game officials KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao following the team’s loss to the Carnival.
“Denzel’s played for me for two years and he’s in great shape, lost all his baby fats, and he’s real fit and ready to go,” the league’s only two-time Grand Slam coach said with a smile.
The defending champions will be playing without James Yap (knee), Peter June Simon (back spasm) and Allein Maliksi, who is attending to his father after suffering from a massive stroke.
But more than the absence of the three, Cone said the Hotshots’ two-game losing skid had a lot to do with their inability to move the ball the way they used to during their 4-0 start this conference.
“We’re just trying to prepare ourselves and make sure we’re doing the right things, just react to what Ginebra does,” said Cone.
“The ball movement has been stagnant because we haven’t been getting up and down the court, so just myriad of things, common things we haven’t done well.”
Bowles is coming fresh from a stint with the Jilin Northeast Tigers in the Chinese Basketball League, where he averaged 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Measured at 6-foot-8 and 13/16 Saturday afternoon, Bowles was finally cleared to play after passing the 6-foot-9 height limit.
The former James Madison University standout though will be up against a phalanx of Ginebra big men in import Michael Dunigan, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Billy Mamaril and Dorian Pena, who has recovered from a bout with the flu.
Meantime, Ginebra coach Ato Agustin said beating a charged-up Purefoods side requires complete focus for the Kings at this point.
“Nitong two losses nila (Hotshots), expected na naming maganda ang ilalaro nila, pero kami rin naman galing sa talo. But to beat this team, kailangan we need to be focused and be aggressive,” said Agustin.
The Kings currently carry a 2-3 record, tied with Alaska at joint seventh to eighth spots.
Agustin said the team’s goal is to win its last two assignments before the All-Star break to at least be in a position in the top eight.