The Magnolia Hotshots paraded their 3rd import in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup against the streaking TNT KaTropa and the result was no different from their last 3 games.
The Hotshots absorbed their 4th straight defeat as the highly-touted Rakeem Christmas could only manage 8 points on 2 of 10 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and 3 assists in 34 minutes of action.
The 6-foot-9 American, however, vowed to make up for his unimpressive debut.
“Just have to get that out of the way and improve in the next game, get ready for the playoffs. Just gotta put that behind me and just move on,” said Christmas who aptly wears jersey number 25.
Magnolia will take on Brgy. Ginebra in a best-of-three quarterfinal series which kicks off on Saturday, July 20 at the MOA Arena.
Despite his mediocre first game, Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone believes that Christmas is a much better player than the one that played against Terrence Jones and the rest of the KaTropa.
“I scouted him in the States. I know he is a much better player than what he showed in their last game. We are not going to fall into the trap of thinking that what he did against TNT is the way he is going to play against us,” said the league’s most decorated bench tactician.
“He will have a game under his belt. I’ve got too much experience. You never judge an import by their first game, whether it’s a great game or a bad game,” added Cone.
The 61-year old, 2-time Grand Slam champion mentor said that he’s encountered a lot in his coaching years and it includes imports playing a lot better in the succeeding games after bombing out in their first.
“Sometimes, guys take our league for granted. And it takes them a game or two to figure out that, ‘Hey, this game is hard and it’s good. I have to lift my level of game.’ We are not going to fall on that trap.”