Ginebra regroups with Stinson
- Joaquin M. Henson () - May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Barangay Ginebra coach Joseph Uichico is hoping Curtis Stinson will do for the Kings in the coming PBA Governors Cup what Nate Brumfield failed to accomplish in the recently concluded second conference.

Brumfield was named the Commissioner’s Cup best import but couldn’t lead the Kings to the Promised Land. Ginebra barged into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed and overachieved in making it to the finals only to lose to Talk ‘N’ Text in a thrilling six-game series.

Not too many fans know that Brumfield played hurt against the Tropang Texters and agreed to take pain killers only in the homestretch. He suffered a groin injury in the semifinal against Smart Gilas and was never the same after that. In Ginebra’s four losses in the finals, Brumfield averaged 14.8 points compared to 26.5 in the Kings’ two wins. It was clear that for Ginebra to seriously threaten for the title, Brumfield had to be in top offensive form.

Uichico offered no excuses for Ginebra’s loss despite Brumfield’s injury. “Nate was playing hurt but Talk ‘N’ Text was good,” he said. “I don’t recall when the injury happened. I think it was the last game of the Gilas series. I also don’t recall when he started taking anti-inflammatory pills. I prepared the team the best I could even starting the Rain Or Shine series in the quarterfinals. If Nate was 100 percent, I could have gone to him in the end or maybe, Talk ‘N’ Text wouldn’t have made that run in the fourth quarter (of Game 6).”

As it turned out, Ginebra blew a 16-point lead early in the payoff period and the Tropa touched off an 11-0 run to make it close. The Kings still led, 88-86, with 36.7 seconds left in regulation then Jimmy Alapag sank a layup to tie it. Instead of Brumfield trying to win it in the last possession, it was Ginebra rookie Robert Labagala who attempted and missed. Talk ‘N’ Text closed it out in extension, 99-96, to clinch the crown.

Now, Uichico is pinning his hopes on Stinson, a 6-2 guard from Iowa State. Stinson, 28, earned his nickname “Blue Collar” on the fabled pavement of Rucker Park in Harlem, New York. He was a legend at Iowa State and has played in Croatia and Greece. Stinson also suited up for the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA summer league.

Stinson arrived from the US last Tuesday morning and reported for a shoot-around in the gym that same day. Uichico said former Arizona State star Paul Howard spoke with Stinson at the Los Angeles airport before he left for Manila. “Coach Paul talks to almost all our imports before they leave,” said Uichico, referring to Ron Jacobs’ best friend who has a special place in his heart for Ginebra.

Stinson played three years with the Iowa State varsity. As a junior in 2005-06, he averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals. Stinson wound up his collegiate career as Iowa State’s 11th all-time leading scorer with 1,651 points. He compiled 1,000 points in his 60th game, third fastest in Cyclone history behind Zaid Abdul Aziz or Don Smith (1965-68) and Dedric Willoughby (1996-97). Among the NBA players from Iowa State were Jeff Hornacek, Jamaal Tinsley, Jeff Grayer, Kelvin Cato, Fred Hoiberg and Jackson Vroman.

Stinson gained a reputation as a clutch go-to guy at Iowa State. As a freshman, he drained a running floater with 32 ticks left to seal the Cyclones’ 68-61 win over Kansas. Stinson hit 32 points, including 27 in the second half, against Rutgers and his last basket put Iowa State on top, 79-77, but he fouled out with three minutes remaining in overtime and the score tied, 79-all.

“Curtis is terrific,” said Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan. “His basketball IQ is genius. It was like he was made to play basketball. He’s an extremely hard worker and he sets the tone for the team with his energy, enthusiasm and attitude. Curtis plays his heart out for this school and gives everything he has. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

As a sophomore, Stinson scored at least 20 points in 10 games and averaged 17.2. According to Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, clutch baskets were a weekly occurrence for Stinson who dropped 30 points on Virginia, including the decisive triple with 14 seconds to go. In an upset over Oklahoma, Stinson scored 18 of his game-high 23 in the second half. And in an overtime win over Kansas, he hit all seven of Iowa State’s points in overtime and iced it with 5.1 ticks left. Stinson made the Big 12 All-Defensive team despite struggling with a sprained left knee and a torn ligament in his left ring finger that required surgery after the season.

In the NBA D-League this year, Stinson averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 1.4 steals. He shot .518 from the floor and .792 from the line.

Ginebra is one of four teams handicapped to play with an import ceiling of 6-2 in the Governors Cup. The others are Talk ‘N’ Text, B-Meg and Petron Blaze.

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