Value of trust

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

Rarely does a team, whether in the NBA or PBA or whatever league, generate 80 percent of its offense from the bench. But last Sunday, Magnolias relievers scored 86 points in the Chicken Timplados Hotshots’ 107-93 win over Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The Fuel Mastersreserves fired 28 points, 58 less than Magnolias and if coach Chito Victoleros bench failed to deliver, the Hotshots wouldve probably lost. Magnolia held a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter and in the last 12 minutes, the Hotshotsshock troopers led the charge with 22 of the teams final 27 points.

Mark Barroca scored 27 and Ian Sangalang, 23 so together, they accounted for 50 of the Hotshots’ 86 bench points. Victoleros gambit of deploying a strong second unit creates matchup problems and its a continuity ploy that has led Magnolia to two straight wins after a 1-2 start. Calvin Abueva also comes off the bench and his reputation as a game changer is evident when he brings instant impact on the floor. Against Phoenix, Abueva collected six points and a game-high 11 boards. Victoleros trust in his bench is paying off dividends.

Trusting in players is a valuable coaching trait. Take Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, for example. He took a calculated risk on La Salle benchwarmer Ralph Cu in the draft last year. Ginebra had no first round pick and Cu was Cones first choice, 23rd overall, on the second round. Cu was cut by then La Salle coach Derick Pumaren before his senior year and ended his season playing on the Archerssecond place 3x3 squad. He paid his dues on Ginebras 3x3 team and got some exposure in the OnTour series.

Cu, 27, was no great shakes in OnTour, averaging 2.6 points and 12.4 minutes in eight of 11 games, hitting .286 from beyond the arc. He had one start and in his final outing, scored eight points in Ginebras 81-67 win over TNT. As a rookie in the Commissioners Cup, Cu went scoreless in five of his eight appearances and averaged 1.1 points and 7.5 minutes, shooting 20 percent from three. Still, Cone kept the faith and brought him to the Gilas camp at Inspire as a practice player. Cus potential as a stretch four had to be in the back of Cones mind. Hes 6-4, a long-range shooter, smart and quick on his feet. Cu could be another Joe DeVance in the triangle. Cu took the challenge to work within Cones system and trained hard to earn his minutes. When the Philippine Cup reeled off, Cu got Cones nod to start and delivered seven points in a 113-107 win over Rain or Shine. Then, he shot 12 in a 102-92 decision over Phoenix. Against Blackwater, Cu fired a career-high 14 in his fourth start and Ginebra won, 105-86. Last Sunday, Cu outdid himself, took Best Player honors and collected a near triple double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 95-88 triumph over NorthPort. From a bittersweet farewell to the UAAP, Cu has blossomed into a player of consequence in the PBA. Cone gave him a chance to prove himself and he did it in style.

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