“I would love a PBA ring.” — Joshua Smith.
Joshua Smith made Tim Cone’s nightmare a reality.
The Ginebra head coach was worried about facing a hulk of an import in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
And as the Gin Kings’ Final Four matchup against TNT unfolded Friday, it seemed like Ginebra somehow managed to draw the more dominant hulk.
It certainly looked that way in Game 1.
Smith, listed at 6’10” and 300 pounds, punished the Ginebra frontline for almost 30 basketball minutes at the MOA Arena, scoring 35 points on 16-of-22 shooting on top of 13 rebounds.
He dropped 29 in the second half alone including an incredible effort in the third period where he pumped 18 to offset a furious Ginebra rally.
The Gin Kings simply had no answer for Smith.
“I was holding myself back,” Smith revealed following his slow first half after he drew two early fouls.
“One thing is with the refs, I just gotta focus and I gotta play my game. I gotta know that going out there, they’re not going to help me and I could only help myself by playing good,” he added.
And come the second half, Smith not only played good, he was near unstoppable regardless how many defenders Ginebra threw at him.
“I feel like anytime [I see] the double coverage coming, I just see it in myself to score. But it’s all about making the right basketball play,” Smith said.
“If they triple team me, that means somebody else in my team is open so I kick it out for a shot,” he added.
Coming up big for the flagship MVP franchise for two straight games now, the first one during a do-or-die game against Meralco, it appears Smith is drawing some inspiration from a certain sports dynasty that plays on the other side of the world.
Emerging from the TNT dugout, Smith was seen wearing a bright, red New England Patriots shirt. It was pretty obvious that his NFL allegiance lies with Tom Brady and company.
The Pats, after winning Super Bowl 51 back in February, finally got their fifth rings Saturday [Sunday, PHL time].
“We got the fifth one and we about to get a sixth one this year. Ain’t no way the NFL’s gonna stop them,” he said.
And with him locked in a heated playoff race of his own, Smith would like to get his hands on a ring as well, the basketball kind.
“I would love a PBA ring,” he said.
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