Dean's Corner ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Rice was overcooked

TNT import Glen Rice Jr.’s ejection with 1:41 left in the first quarter of last Sunday’s Game 4 of the PBA Governors Cup semifinal series between the KaTropa and Barangay Ginebra was particularly painful for someone who treated the former Washington Wizards guard like a son.

“I’m not angry,” said TNT alternate governor Patrick Gregorio who was on the KaTropa bench when Rice was slapped two technicals to cause his ejection. “I’m disappointed, I’m sad. We were up by 15, we were playing well. We gave Glen a chance. He’s one of the best imports I’ve seen in years. I sent him back to the hotel right after he was thrown out. I didn’t want him to be in the dugout with the team during halftime. He would’ve been a distraction. So (coaching consultant) Alton (Lister) took him out to dinner and brought him back to his hotel.” Ginebra went on to erase the deficit and won, 115-105. Rice’s stats were two points, three rebounds and five assists.

Gregorio paid special attention to Rice precisely because of his reputation as a ticking timebomb. “We took a risk and it was good while it lasted,” he said. “Everybody deserves a second or even a third chance. We did our due diligence on Glen. When he arrived, I had dinner with him.  Like a father to a son, I reached out to him. He promised to be a good boy, that the past is past, that he had reformed.”

After TNT lost the first game of the playoffs to Rain Or Shine, Gregorio sent Rice a letter. “It was the first time I did something like that to a player,” he said. “I usually write to my wife and children but I wrote to Glen. I told him he’s the best import out there and the organization would be forever grateful if he could bring us to the championship, that he could be our resident import and play for us for years.”

When Rice hit 34 points to lead TNT to a 118-114 win over Rain Or Shine to advance to the semifinals, Gregorio went to the KaTropa dugout to congratulate him. “I was touched when Glen opened his knapsack and showed me the letter I wrote to him,” said Gregorio. “He told me he’ll keep the letter forever, that it was the first time he’d received a letter like that.”

The day before Game 4, Gregorio nursed a slight fever but still made it a point to visit Rice during TNT practice at Moro Lorenzo. “I asked (assistant team manager) Magnum (Membrere) to give Glen some chocolates, like Toblerone and Kit-Kat so when I got to Moro, he thanked me,” said Gregorio. “I told Glen not to be bothered by Kevin Ferrer’s physical defense. I told him Kevin won’t hurt him, that he’s just playing mind games.  I know Kevin well because his girlfriend EmEm’s father Efren Bellarmino, COO of Plantation Bay Cebu, is a close friend. In fact, I’m the wedding godfather of EmEm’s sister. After Game 3, Kevin even came up to me and made mano. In Game 3, Glen played through Kevin’s defense and was under control, scoring 44 points. So when he snapped in Game 4, it was a shocker.”

Dean's Corner ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

What pained Gregorio was when he tried to pacify Rice after his ejection, the import shot back at him, saying, “why are you protecting your grandson?” It was in reference to Gregorio being a godfather of Ferrer’s girlfriend’s sister. “I felt the frustration of a father who was let down by a son,” he said. “I thought he had changed. We were ready for a Game 5. I’m speechless, what Glen did was uncalled for. I’m sad that he didn’t see the bigger picture. He has to learn a lesson from this. His emotional outburst created too many consequences. We were hoping to make it to the finals then boom, the balloon burst. His contract has clauses to penalize him for unruly conduct during a game so we’ll figure out what to do. What a waste of talent.”

Gregorio said TNT team owner Manny V. Pangilinan and governor Ricky Vargas visited the KaTropa twice in the dugout last Sunday – once at the half and once after the game. “At the half, MVP encouraged the guys to stay focused, to keep our lead,” he said. “After the game, MVP told the guys he’s proud of the way they played, that they’ll get better, that he’s not disappointed. After this experience, we realized a new KaTropa is born. Look at Troy Rosario now and R R. Pogoy with Jayson Castro as our leader. We know Mo Tautuaa will get better. In the words of Mr. Vargas, ‘we’re proud of this new team, two semis, one final with a new coach (Nash Racela).”

Gregorio shared a text he sent yesterday to Rice’s US agent Scott Chinarian: “We were all hoping and praying for the best. We were on our way. I went out of my way to help manage Glen. He had a chance to change his life. We wanted to change his life. He snapped.” Racela’s message to Chinarian was “High risk, high reward … almost but not quite.”

Dean's Corner ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us: