BASKETBALL fans finally made Gary David feel how much he’s loved when they heartily cheered on the struggling shooting guard in Gilas Pilipinas’ 90-71 win over Japan on Monday night in the 27th Fiba-Asia Championship.
Mired in a scoring slump, David somehow managed to recover some of his shattered confidence when he hit two of three from the field inside the final three minutes after coach Chot Reyes decided to field him in with the final outcome already beyond doubt, 82-65.
The Globalport star first threw up a brick from three-point land but soon hit his stride, scoring on a short stab and then hitting a three-pointer from deep corner off an LA Tenorio assist as chants of "Gary! Gary! Gary!" echoed inside the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
The outpouring of love was of course, in stark contrast to the jeers inside the arena and online flak he received following his poor shooting performance in the team’s first three games, including an 84-79 loss to Chinese Taipei Saturday night.
“Ramdam ko ang kilabot sa katawan ko dahil sa suporta ng mga tao,” David said after the game in which he finished with five points in 11 minutes of play.
So touched was David and his family with the crowd support that his daughter Maxene couldn’t contain her tears the moment she heard the crowd chanting her father’s name.
Despite shooting 2-of-18 from the field in Gilas’ first three games, the former Lyceum stalwart said he tried to hit his stride by taking coach Chot Reyes' advice and embracing the pressure.
“Tama ang sabi ni coach na kung may pressure na nararamdaman, huwag mo i-deny, huwag mo itago,” David said. “Tinanggap ko lang ang pressure kaya naging maganda laro ko at inuna ko muna sa depensa. Alam ko malaki ang expectations ng mga tao, kaya eto."
“Pero malaking pasasalamat ko sa team dahil di nila ako binitawan. Sila nagbigay ng kumpiyansa (sa akin),” added the 35-year-old shooting guard, nicknamed `El Granada.’
Gilas teammate Ranidel De Ocampo disclosed the entire team never lost its confidence in David even with him in the midst of a struggle trying to find his shooting touch.
“Ilang laro na kasi nawawala si Gary. Eh, dahil mas matanda siya doon sa ibang players, parang nahihiya silang kausapin siya,” said the Gilas power forward.
“Kaya ako ang kumakausap sa kanya, sinasabi ko na huwag siyang mawawalan ng kumpiyansa. In due time, makukuha niya uli `yung dating laro niya.”
Heading into Tuesday’s important match against unbeaten Qatar, David said it doesn’t matter what role he plays, whether in an off-the-bench role once again or as a starter.
“Actually ako na mismo nagsabi kay coach Josh (Reyes), na sabihin sa daddy niya (Chot Reyes) na i-off-the-bench muna ako kasi gusto ko muna basahin yung sitwasyon bago ako maglaro,” he added.