Import Mario Little might be not producing eye-popping numbers but his big defensive presence has helped TNT Katropa’s explosive start.
With the 28-year old Little in tow, TNT is so far smooth sailing in its first 4 games, topping the standing with an unbeaten record heading to the All-Star break.
Their immaculate card, though, does not add up if their reinforcements’ statistics will be the basis.
Coming in as an emergency replacement with former NBA veteran Jason Maxiell getting over the height limit, Little only averaged 15.5 points per game so far, the lowest among all the American imports in the Governors’ Cup, while adding 9 rebounds.
For head coach Jong Uichico, the former NBA D-League player’s defensive intangibles more than makes up for what he lacks offensively. After all, TNT got bevy of scorers led by Jayson Castro, who’s been playing like an import this conference.
“He might not give the numbers we all expect, but he gives something the team does not have. It doesn’t show in the stats, but we see,” said Uichico after nothing their 4th straight win over sister team NLEX Road Warriors, 1O1-95, on Wednesday at the Big Dome.
“He can play the 4 and the 3. He makes the defensive system look better,” he added.
Castro, who topscored TNT with 23, couldn’t agree more with his mentor as he recognizes Little’s on-court wit.
“Kung mapapansin niyo, si Mario hindi siya scorer pero sa defensive end, parang siya yung leader namin kasi ang galing niya mag-adjust eh, tsaka yung basketball IQ talagang napakataas,” said ‘The Blur’ of Little.
Castro even comfortably attested that Little’s defensive approach perfectly complements his game, which is consistently doing the damage for TNT.
“Alam niya lahat, dun namin siya maasahan tsaka yung mga hustle niya,” he said. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH