Coach Tim Cone usually starts with an “oversized” lineup that consists of three bigs and two wing guys for his backcourt players. In their matchup against the Meralco Bolts last Friday, the huge Purefoods frontcourt of Denzel Bowles, Rafi Reavis, and Joe Devance (James Yap and PJ Simon as the guards) enabled the Star Hotshots to set the tone early and take a 29-21 edge after the first quarter.
Cone placed Reavis on Bolts import Josh Davis, which resulted to Bowles roaming around the paint to protect the rim and bother Meralco’s passing lanes.
On offense, it gave even more problems for the undersized Bolts. In one play, it was Devance posting up on the low block. Sean Anthony slid-in to offer help, leaving his man Bowles wide open. Devance immediately threw a kick-out pass and Bowles connected with an elbow jumper.
Bowles also attacked. When the defense collapsed, he just dumped the ball to Reavis. Purefoods got ample momentum of the ball, and that good start was vital for them to pull off the win.
Cone himself was surprised to see how it worked well for that particular game.
“To be honest, I thought it was a great coaching move on my part to put Rafi on Davis, but that wasn’t our original game plan. Ping was doubtful whether he could play because he had fever, so I put Rafi instead. Otherwise it would have been Ping there,” Cone quipped of Marc Pingris. “It turned out Rafi played a really excellent basketball game.”
Bowles hit five of his first seven attempts and had 37 points in total and added 21 rebounds. Reavis meanwhile had nine boards to help the Star Hotshots outrebound the Bolts, 53-35.
Overall, Purefoods was plus-17 with the trio of Bowles, Devance, and Reavis on the floor, and minus-6 with a different frontcourt combination.
The Star Hotshots also shot 56 percent from the field while the Bolts shot only 38 percent from the field.
“We had three bigs who can switch on Davis, and that was the key. We just tried to put a bunch of bigs out there to make him fight through it. Denzel got into a good shooting rhythm early in the game too,” Cone said.
Bowles has been phenomenal since returning to the PBA. In five games, he is averaging 33.4 PPG, 15.2 RPG, and 2.8 BPG on 48.5 percent shooting. In his last two games, Bowles was 57.1 percent from the field and he got it done with an array of moves and being aggressive in attacking the hoop, the biggest difference between this conference and his last stint.
“I just feel confident with my shot. If I can get it off, I feel my shot is going in. Coach knows I am a scorer, so as long as I don’t lose control. He just tells me to calm down,” Bowles said.
“So I drive sometimes just to mix it up. You don’t want to fall in love with the jumpshot. But when you’re hitting the outside shot, they’ll bite and it will be easier to drive.”
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