Josh Dollard heartbroken but still positive for Barako Bull
MANILA, Philippines - 45, 44, 46.
Those aren't lottery numbers. Those are the number of points American import Josh Dollard has put up for the Barako Bull Energy Cola in 3 of their 5 games in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.
Those numbers should mean Dollard is rejoicing. But in reality, he's heartbroken.
"It's heartbreaking when you give a lot of effort to a game and you come out on the losing end regardless of how many points you score or how many rebounds you get and assists you get," he said following their 106-100 loss to the San Miguel Beermen on Saturday, March 22.
The 27-year old has been one of the most explosive imports in the 2014 PBA Commissioner's Cup, taking over on offense in every manner in an effort to take Barako Bull to the promised land.
But his league-leading 36 points per game have only resulted in a 1-4 standing so far.
"It's frustrating regardless if you score a lot or score a little. I'd rather score 4 points and get a win than score 40 and get an L because the objective at the end of the night is to get the win," lamented the 6-foot-8 South Carolina native. "My points don't really matter to me at the end of the day."
(RELATED: No hero ball for Barako Bull import Dollard)
It has been a tough conference for Barako Bull, who have lost close games to Barangay Ginebra and Talk 'N Text. Their recurring problems from last conference have lingered. Though they’ve come up strong in the third and fourth quarters of games, a pattern has emerged where they eventually fall through in the endgame.
Whether it's a lack of experience as a team or just plain bad decision-making, Dollard attributes their meltdowns to the little things all of them fail to notice.
"We gotta stop giving up offensive rebounds and cut back on the turnovers, executing our offense to a T. And executing our defensive rotations because that's what's costing us close games," he explained. "We get ahead and I don't know whether we're relaxing or it's just a lack of attention to detail. And when we come down to the defensive end, we give up big plays."
That was, indeed, the story for Barako Bull against the Beermen on Saturday. They hung tough throughout the game and intended to deliver the final blow in the fourth. They had the right idea, but they just couldn't maintain a solid grip on it.
Anchored by Dollard's 46-point explosion and the 4 triples he connected on in parity with Mick Pennisi, Barako took the lead from San Miguel, 87-84, with 8:49 left to play. The lead kept swinging back and forth after as the Energy couldn't quite pull away.
But several bad consecutive plays resulting from bad defensive execution paved the way for San Miguel to craft a 7-0 blitz and put themselves permanently on top, 99-93.
It's mental lapses like those that Dollard believes they must remedy in order to string together wins and make a decent finish of the eliminations.
"It's points like that in the game with a good team like that, you gotta be on your game on both ends of the floor. We just gotta tighten up on a few things and I'll think we'll be okay."
True enough, rebounding was a major department where the Beermen clobbered Barako, 54-36. On the offensive glass San Miguel was simply dominating with a 22-10 edge, which resulted in 27 second chance points that hurt Barako's cause.
And while Dollard doesn’t blame his teammates, he believes they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to make a run for the playoffs in a short single round-robin conference.
"We definitely got a lot of catching up to do but I think it's possible. We got a tough stretch ahead of us," said Dollard. "There's never a night off in the PBA. We emphasize that you gotta forget the game real quickly and move on to the next because it's a short tournament and you have no time to dwell on the last game."
Asked if dropping 40 points is something required of him by the coaching staff, Dollard explained that he just reacts to what instructions the coaches give him.
"It's just pretty much what the coaches draw up for me. I go along with it whether it's for me or for one of our other guys. It's all about executing, whether it ends up in my hands or it's me making a play for my other teammates."
With only one win so far, and only 4 games left, the race is on for Barako to get their act together fast. Last conference they made the playoffs. This time they are in danger of missing it and taking a step back from their progress.
For Dollard, he hopes the team's collective effort in the next few games will yield a better ending.
"For my teammates, we really want to win," he said. "My team and I we're, gonna continue fighting until it's said and done." - Rappler.com