Glen Rice Jr. bobbed his head and bust out some dance moves as loudspeakers blared hip-hop music throughout the arena during a timeout late in the fourth quarter.
Rice had just picked up his fifth foul at the 4:58 mark of the fourth quarter with TNT protecting a 95-83 lead against a Barangay Ginebra team capable of coming back instantly in a game the KaTropa couldn’t afford to lose.
There was no hint of anxiousness in Rice despite being limited to a spectator on the bench due to foul trouble with Ginebra primed for one last run.
Rice’s cool demeanor isn’t because of complacency, but rather of confidence that his teammates will get the job done.
“I wasn’t really worried because I believe in the guys and I know they could take it from there,” Rice told reporters after TNT overcame his foul woes and Ginebra’s repeated rallies for a 103-96 win at Batangas City Coliseum Wednesday night.
“Of course, you don’t wanna be on the bench but I wasn’t that nervous at all. We got a lot of great players so I wasn’t really that worried at all.”
True enough, the locals stepped up in the absence of Rice, who missed the entire third quarter after being called for his fourth foul with still three minutes left in the first half.
Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy carried much of the scoring load in the third period. The star guard fired 11 of his 20 points in the third alone.
“I think it backfired-putting Glen into foul trouble early because the locals played well together which gave Rice the whole third to rest. He came out fresh in the fourth,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.
The 26-year-old Rice was rejuvenated at the start of the fourth quarter. He made up for lost time and scored 12 of his team-high 21 points in the first seven minutes of the final frame until he committed his fifth foul.
“I didn’t play in the third so I had the opportunity to come out there a little fresher. Like it or not, I got into foul trouble so early in the game. But it was what it was,” said Rice, who was selected late in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 NBA Draft.
“My teammates did a great job of lifting us up. And when I came in the fourth, we were already winning, so it made our job a lot easier.”
There were a few questionable calls, but Rice said his fouls were due to his aggressiveness right from the opening tip.
“I think our energy was better. We were scrambling a little more, we were a little feisty that’s why a couple of us got into foul trouble. Our energy was so high that we almost played a lttle too hard but not that smart. But it ended up good for us,” he said.
The KaTropa redeemed themselves after suffering a 121-94 rout in Game 1, but after a gutsy win in Game 2, they’re confident that they can make it back-to-back.
“We know what we gonna do to beat this team. We gotta play hard, we gotta have the same energy and effort that we had tonight. And I think we’ll be successful if we do that.”
Arellano keeps Final Four hunt alive, routs St. Benilde