GLOBALPORT star Sol Mercado refuses to pin the blame on Justin Chua after his "rookie mistake" in the dying seconds cost the Batang Pier dearly in an 80-83 loss to San Mig Super Coffee on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Chua made a big mistake with the game on the line, 80-81, in the final seconds, throwing a pass directly to San Mig guard Mark Barroca who went on to hit the two foul shots that made it a three-point game with 15.5 seconds remaining.
Two desperation three-point attempts in the end by GlobalPort failed to hit the mark, allowing the Mixers to escape with the victory.
Mercado was quick to console his rookie teammate after the match.
“I told him (Chua), I know he’s not someone who’s gonna go down in the shell and get down on himself. It (mistake) happens,” Mercado said.
“It doesn’t take away what he did for us in the game. He hit big shots, he plays, rebounds, I mean you can’t get on him just for one play. The game is 48 minutes.”
Chua, picked 10th overall by San Mig during last month’s rookie draft before being traded a few days later to Globalport for Fil-Am freshman center Isaac Holstein, gave a good account himself during his 16-minute stint in the game.
The former Ateneo backup big man, who didn’t play in the first half, finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal.
Mercado defended GlobalPort's decision to play three rookies - Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia and Chua - in the endgame, saying the three freshmen have proven themselves very early in their pro careers.
Garcia and Romeo missed three-point attempts in the dying seconds.
“They’ve (rookies) been big for us the whole season. RR (Garcia) got a good look. Terrence (Romeo) got a good look. Nothing to hang our heads about,” he added.
Gloablport returns to action on Christmas Day when it faces Air21 at the Mall of Asia Arena.