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Is Bowles mentally unstable?

Denzel Bowles was cut by TNT KaTropa a day before the PBA Commissioner’s Cup started last Friday and the speculation is he could be suffering from some kind of depression that has compromised his mental stability. A source said he was like Jekyll and Hyde during his two-week stay in Manila. “One minute, he was a nice guy then the next minute, he was like a popcorn popping out,” the source said.

There was talk that during a scrimmage, Bowles confronted a TNT teammate after getting bumped and claimed he was disrespected. He also argued with TNT skills coach Alton Lister because he felt he didn’t need the extra work to polish his post-up game. A report in the hotel where he stayed showed that Bowles took off late at night and returned in the early hours of the next morning at least thrice. Once, he complained of a migraine at practice and it appeared that he had a hangover. 

“What a waste of talent,” said a team insider. “We heard his mother (Veronica) called up one of his former PBA teammates to help her son deal with a personal problem. We understand Denzel had difficulty coping with the recent death of his father-figure whom he looked up to for guidance. At the height of his PBA career, he was once considered to be a naturalized player for Gilas.” 

Bowles’ father Dennis, a retired Navyman, died at the age of 44 in 2012 due to complications from a seizure. At the time of his father’s death, Bowles’ parents were already separated. Bowles’ father died the year the 6-8 7/8 center made his PBA debut, leading B-Meg to the Commissioner’s Cup crown. He won Best Import honors that year.  In Game 7 of the finals, Bowles nailed two free throws to force overtime and B-Meg went on to beat TNT, 90-84, for the title. Bowles had 39 points and 21 rebounds in the clincher. That led to three more stints for Bowles with the Purefoods franchise.

“I don’t think Bowles has a drug problem,” said the insider. “Maybe, he took to alcohol because of his depression.” In two preseason games, Bowles was like his old self, scoring 35 points in a TNT win over Mahindra and 29 in another victory over Rain Or Shine. But his unpredictable temperament was a source of tension at TNT.

“Chemistry became an issue because of Denzel’s attitude,” said the insider. “If he didn’t feel like joining the drills, he’d sit out. Coach Alton played several years in the NBA and is in charge of working with TNT’s bigs. Mo Tautuaa’s development is largely because of coach Alton’s training. Guys work on skills drills about 20 to 30 minutes before practice. Coach Bong (Ravena) and coach Jonathan (de Guzman), for instance, work with Matt (Ganuelas). But Denzel told coach Alton he didn’t need the extra drills. Coach Alton was just doing his job.” A TNT source said that if the coaches knew Bowles had an attitude problem, he wouldn’t have been signed up in the first place.

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“Whatever is bothering Denzel, let’s hope he gets over it,” said an insider. “He’s only 27 and he’s got many years of basketball ahead.” Aside from the Philippines, Bowles has displayed his wares in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, China and Lithuania. Twice, he came close to landing an NBA contract, playing preseason games with New Orleans and Indiana. 

A source said there was an opt-out clause in Bowles’ contract that allowed TNT to release him for breach. He was guaranteed only a two-week pay. In cases where an import arrives but measures over the height limit, he’s not paid and only his round-trip air fare is picked up by the host team. “Denzel’s case isn’t unique,” said a source. “Miscommunication could lead to conflict situations. The key is to mediate and resolve the issue right away. But sometimes, as in Denzel’s case, the problem is deeply-rooted.”

TNT management decided to let go of Bowles to avert an escalation of the problem that could affect the entire team. Talks were being concluded yesterday for a replacement to arrive by tomorrow. TNT makes its conference debut on Friday. A hot candidate is a 6-9 forward who was a first round pick in the 2008 NBA draft and played four seasons with the Sacramento Kings.

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