AFTER so much excitement in the offseason and so much hype after two victories to start the season, the Barangay Ginebra Kings are back where they started.
Siot Tanquingcen, though, is in no way alarmed and is preaching patience, confident that it will only be a matter of time before things will come together for Ginebra's revamped lineup this season.
"These are growing pains talaga," said Tanquingcen on Sunday night after a 95-98 loss to sister team Petron - the third successive defeat for a Ginebra team that opened the season with successive victories.
"Siguro ganun talaga eh, things aren’t going for us palagi. Somehow, with these young guys, they’ll commit mistakes here and there. But we just have to make sure we keep focused on the goal and improve.”
Tanquingcen offered only two reasons for their sudden slide in the tournament — young players still learning the ropes in the pro league and their inconsistency on the defensive end of the floor.
Tanquingcen knows that rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen, despite the athleticism and energy they bring to the team, need to keep playing and learning from the veterans to sustain their development.
“We have so many new guys playing a lot of minutes so they’re gonna make mistakes. They just have to figure out their roles. Of course, it’s different just knowing it, and having the instinct to do it,” said Tanquingcen.
Prized recruit LA Tenorio seconded Tanquingcen’s observation, saying every loss should serve as a lesson for the Kings to help them grow and improve as a team.
“We’re not happy with the loss. That’s for sure. But the positive thing from these (losses), may mga lessons kaming matututunan. Siyempre, may kasabihan nga na di naman araw-araw Pasko. We have to improve on our execution also,” said the 28-year-old Tenorio, who arrived at the Gin Kings camp during the offseason after being traded by the Alaska Aces, his team for the last four seasons.
With a deep bench at his disposal, Tanquingcen said he has been telling his players to simply play within the system so they could execute well, while not forgetting that defense will help them win championships.
“In our last three games, our defense was not that consistent. Maybe execution-wise, we could get better, basically, it’s no secret, we can are in a transition. But it’s a process of learning,” explained Tanquingcen.
The 6-foot-4 Ellis averaged 11.2 points, five rebounds and a steal during the Gin Kings' three-game skid. He committed six turnovers against the Boosters alone, including an errant pass in the waning minutes of the match that proved costly.
Jensen, on the other hand, has had to compete for minutes in Barangay Ginebra’s crowded four position against the likes of Rico Maierhofer, Willy Wilson, and Rudy Hatfield. He normed 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in the team’s last three outings.
As expected, last season’s MVP Mark Caguioa leads the team in scoring with 21 points in the last three games, along with 4.3 rebounds. But he has also turned the ball over 12 times during that stretch.