Jeremiah Gray proves worth in Alab bounce back win
MANILA, Philippines–San Miguel Alab Pilipinas forward Jeremiah Gray relished the thought of going up against an eight-year NBA veteran in OJ Mayo of the Taipei Fubon Braves.
Coach Jimmy Alapag was only glad to give the ABL rookie the assignment at crunchtime.
Proving he was worthy of Alapag’s trust and confidence, Gray delivered a breakout performance with 17 points aside from a stellar defensive job on Mayo in the final seconds as Alab rebounded with a 101-96 win over the Braves Tuesday night at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
“Jeremiah Gray, he had a huge task for a young player like him to guard an eight year NBA veteran in OJ Mayo, but I thought he did a great job defensively and then offensively, he came down and hit some huge shots,” said Alapag.
“One time was telling him to slow it down and he pulled up and hit a three. I told him it took some big balls to take the shot, but I’m proud of him for having the confidence to go and take it and make it.”
Gray’s minutes have been inconsistent this season and a lot of that boiled down to his work on the defensive end. An explosive scorer when he was playing for Mighty Sports, the 6-foot-3 forward showed another facet of his game with a couple of big blocks on a hot-shooting Mayo in the end game.
“The coaching staff told me the only way I can earn my minutes is if I play better defense,” said Gray, who averaged 6.7 points in 19 minutes before the game.
Held to just four points in the 93-98 loss to Macau Wolf Warriors last Sunday, Sam Deguara also delivered a strong response with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Nick King added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Mayo, a former No. 3 pick in the NBA, who played eight seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, finished with 35 points, while former Ginebra import Chuck Garcia added 27 for the Braves, who saw their two game winning streak snapped. Fubon fell to 6-4.
“Last game, we had a couple of miscues at the end of the game, but I thought tonight, our energy was much better,” said Alapag. “Our focus was much better and the guys really followed the game plan. Credit goes to them.”