MANILA, Philippines – Like wine, Denzel Bowles just keeps getting better with time.
In his third tour of duty for the Purefoods franchise in the PBA, Bowles is thriving more than ever as he benefits from Tim Cone’s triangle offense night in and night out.
He hit a milestone Wednesday night, April 1 when he posted a career-high 49 points to power a 100-94 Purefoods victory over Talk ’N Text in game 1 of the best-of-5 semifinals in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
Bowles says this is the product more of the team’s offense, rather than what the opponent’s defense is giving him.
“It’s the process of our offense. I’m getting it out of our offense,” he said after the convincing victory. “Second half they closed out on me so I’m just trying to get the first available shot.”
The 25-year old lived up to the “Monster Bowles” nickname he earned on Philippine shores in the first half, where missing a shot turned rare for him with his 14-of-18 field goals for 29 points right away.
In the second half, even as Talk ’N Text mounted a near-comeback, Bowles remained unstoppable.
He dropped 20 more points, including key baskets down the stretch, to boost the Hotshots whose only local in double figures was James Yap with 18 points.
“When I get it going like that it’s crazy because next game I might just have 20 and my other teammates step up,” Bowles said modestly. “We have a lot of great players but tonight was just my night.”
He wasn’t just on fire offensively for the streaking Purefoods, but he was also efficient on defense going +15 during his close to 43 minutes the floor.
“I try to be a two-way player and try to get the stops,” said Bowles, whom the Hotshots brought in midway in the conference in lieu of controversial import Daniel Orton. “Sometimes the offense breaks down and I take advantage of that.”
Bowles last played for the Jilin Northeast Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he admitted he also had similar hot nights and dropped 44 at one point in his close to 30 games there.
“He is awesome,” head coach Tim Cone said of the former 2012 Best Import who helped him and his then B-Meg squad to the Commissioner’s Cup title. “He can shoot the ball, he can put the ball on the floor for a 6-foot-9 guy.”
Before this game, Bowles was averaging 31 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists. He’s had only a single game where he scored below 30 points, a 20-point performance versus Alaska in the quarterfinals.
Despite Bowles’ already impressive performance, Cone believes there is more untapped potential the Hotshots can capitalize on.
“He’s also a very, very good passer if you move and cut around him,” Cone explained.
“We need to take advantage of that part of him. Tonight we didn’t. Luckily we pulled it out. We gotta get better for game 2.”
Game 2 of this series is set on Monday, April 6.
“I’m just blessed to keep going in the playoffs at the right time,” Bowles said. – Rappler.com