Ginebra import impresses in tune up game vs San Mig Coffee
MANILA, Philippines — Barangay Ginebra import Leon Rodgers turned heads as the Kings held off the San Mig Coffee Mixers, 116-103, in a tune up game Monday at the Ronac Art Center in San Juan.
With both squads missing some of their key locals, Rodgers took center stage and coolly came away with 38 points as he outplayed his counterpart James Mays.
“I think everything is going as planned as far as feeling each other out, as far as chemistry. This is a good team from top to bottom and got guys with experience and know how to play,” said the six-foot-seven Rodgers, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter after his hamstring tightened up.
“He can help us in scoring and his experience,” said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin on the 33-year-old Rodgers.
Agustin also said that Rodgers, who has played in different parts of the world with his most recent stint in China before taking his talents here in Manila, fit right in with the Kings’ system and players.
“Our offense is better with him and he’s really a shooter and he’d surprise you like today he had like [over] 30 points,” Agustin said, whose team played minus their starting big men Greg Slaughter (food poisoning) and Japeth Aguilar (plantar fasciitis).
The Mixers also had a depleted lineup without their best five in Marc Pingris, newly-minted PH Cup Finals MVP Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, James Yap and Joe Devance who all got a much-needed rest.
“This is our second and our third group pretty much playing today. You got to commend them for the effort they put out. It’s not that easy to really not play and all of a sudden you’ll be called to play,” said San Mig Coffee’s lead assistant coach Jeffrey Cariaso, who filled in for head coach Tim Cone.
“Really today, I kept telling the guys we’re not looking at the score. We don’t care about the score. We’re trying to get James (Mays) ready for the conference and we’re trying to get the reserves ready also in case we need them,” added Cariaso, who also had praises for Rodgers.
The six-foot-nine Mays, who had a stint in the NBA D-League before being tapped by the Mixers, led the Mixers with 23 points while reserve Val Acuña had 22.
“He is really strong inside obviously. Right now he’s just a little tired so he’s not finishing normally inside. He is a good triangle big guy,” said Cariaso of Mays. “He is the type that can really fit into our system.”
The Kings led by as much as 17 points in the third quarter before the Mixers showed signs of life in the fourth quarter where they pulled to within six, 93-99, on a basket by Mays.
Chris Ellis stopped San Mig Coffee’s late run with five unanswered points before his two-handed dunk off a lob pass from LA Tenorio clinched the game, 112-102, with 1:09 left.
“So far so good. I think we’re ready for this conference,” said Tenorio.