Gavina admits Mahindra lethargic in loss to Meralco on opening day

Coming off a disappointing all-Filipino campaign, Mahindra coach Chris Gavina knows they need no less than a good start in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.

But that’s the exact opposite in the Floodbuster’s conference-debut following their 94-86 loss to the Meralco Bolts on Friday’s opening day at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Except for vastly improved Alex Mallari and young shooter Bong Gallanza, Gavina called out his bench for their lethargic showing against a focused Bolts side.

“We didn’t get much productivity from our second team guys,” rued Gavina. “I need my second guys and veterans to really provide positive minutes, not so much scoring wise.” 

Mallari collected 21 points off the bench while Galanza went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc to finish with 9 points for Mahindra, though Meralco showed its poise in the endgame.

“I wrote on our board, be a spark, meaning contribute on the offensive end, diving for loose ball or taking the charge, we did not get that spark today,” he said.

Gavina also noted how Mahindra failed to take care of the basketball.

“We had lot of unforced turnovers that were just simple inbounds. That was a lot of lack of mental focus that needs to be addressed tomorrow,” Gavina said, pointing to the team’s 18 turnovers.

Young import James White, back at the Mahindra franchise, fired 33 points and added 16 rebounds, but Gavina felt he could have done more if he was aggressive inside.

“We need James to get aggressive early on. After the first half, I said to him in the locker room, stop taking outside shots when athletically he’s the most athletic guy in the building,” he said of White, who also added 4 blocks.

Gavina, though, understands the situation of White, who’s still blending with a new core, following the departure of KG Canaleta, Bradwyn Guinto and Aldrech Ramos–all traded in the offseason.

“He’s pretty much playing a whole new group of guys, he’s getting accustomed to everybody again and everybody is figuring out where he can be most useful,” Gavina said.

Meantime, Mallari hopes the team moves over this loss quick and begin preparing for their game on Sunday against defending champion Rain or Shine.

“The silver lining is that we can fix those (mistakes). On to the next one,” Mallari said.

“The goal is to always make it to the playoffs and after that whatever happens.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad

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