CAN Nard John Pinto prove there’s no such thing as a `sophomore jinx’?
The 22-year-old pride of Davao will be under the microscope again when Arellano University squares off with Mapua in Thursday’s NCAA men’s basketball game at The Arena in San Juan.
Thrust into a more prominent role in only his second year following the departure of veteran guards Rocky Acidre and Vergel Zulueta, Pinto has so far been a disappointment in his first three outings with the Chiefs, putting up averages of just seven points on 24 percent shooting, 5.7 boards, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and a league-worst six turnovers in 27.3 minutes of play.
Whether the starting point guard finally brings his A-game or not will be known as the Chiefs meet with the Cardinals at 6 p.m.
Arellano coach Koy Banal said Pinto is a marked man this year, best typified in the Chiefs’ game against defending champion San Beda last week when he finished with just four points on 2-of-11 shooting and added six turnovers in 26 minutes of action in a 67-54 loss.
“It’s natural for a team to have a plan against a particular player like John. I told him just to be ready to make the extra pass in case Mapua clogs the lane,” said Banal, who’s getting quality minutes from rookie playmaker Jiovani Jalalon with Pinto on a current slump.
Pinto is once again expected to bleed for his points as the Chiefs are facing a Cardinals side that is coming off a 74-59 beating at the hands of Lyceum last Saturday.
Banal is confident Pinto will finally bounce back, believing his prized ward “has the ability to read the situation to counter his defense.”
“I’m expecting him to be able to handle whatever our opponent will do to him defensively,” Banal said.
College of St. Benilde tries to finally barge into the win column when it takes on Jose Rizal University in the first game at 4 p.m.
The only remaining team without a win at 0-2, the host faces a Heavy Bombers squad that lost a close 69-66 decision to league leader Letran the last time, the team's second in three assignments.