Tiu embraces bigger role for Rain or Shine
It was an ugly win for Rain or Shine but Chris Tiu would gladly take it.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game offensively, but we’re happy to win. A win is a win,” Tiu said on the heels of the Elasto Painters hacking out a 82-79 victory over TNT to start their 2018 PBA Philippine Cup right.
Tiu was one of the key players who delivered the season-opening triumph for Rain or Shine as he contributed 12 points and three rebounds on Friday.
His stellar performance, as the former Ateneo playmaker says, was by design as he challenged himself to take a bigger role on the team this season, especially with a number of key cogs of the old champion teams already gone.
“I’m trying to be more offensive-minded. Before, I was pass-first, but with the departure of some of our scorers, we have to fill in. Naturally, I’m more of a pass-first player, but I’m kind of changing my mentality to be more aggressive just to facilitate and be more of a leader, especially now that we have a lot of young guys and new personalities in the team,” he said.
Already in his sixth year in the PBA, Tiu knows that his responsibility has drastically changed with the Elasto Painters as he is now counted on to commander the crew together with fellow veterans Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and James Yap.
And if this first game is any indication, he looks like he’ll easily pass the test as coach Caloy Garcia is giving them a free rein to anchor their younger teammates.
“I think the confidence is much higher now for me, especially because I know that I’ll be playing a lot of minutes than before. Coach Caloy has showed that he’s been trusting me now more, and that makes a difference in any athlete’s confidence if you know you’re gonna get minutes,” he said.
That, however, isn’t limited to just Tiu as he lauded how Rain or Shine executed down the stretch despite losing to TNT in virtually every statistical category — save for shooting as their 36-percent clip from the field proved to be just enough to eke out the W, something which he believes the team can build on as the season goes.
“I think it’s a good test for us early on because we’re playing close games like this. Towards the end of the elimination round and in the playoffs, if ever we make it there, we’ll be playing a lot of close games so we have to get accustomed to that, especially now that a lot of us used to be second stringers to the Paul Lees, the Jeff Chans, and the JR Quiñahans,” he said.
He added: “I think the conference looks promising for our new team. A lot of new faces, a lot of young guys are stepping up — look at the stats, the scoring is pretty balanced. Everybody chipped in offensively and even defensively. It’s a good practice for us as we move forward in the season.”