PBA Philippine Cup

Pleasant surprise: Ralph Cu flirts with triple-double in gritty Ginebra win

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Pleasant surprise: Ralph Cu flirts with triple-double in gritty Ginebra win

SHOT. Ralph Cu in action for Barangay Ginebra in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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Ginebra newcomer Ralph Cu falls just a dime short of becoming the first rookie to record a triple-double since teammate and former PBA MVP Scottie Thompson achieved the feat in 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The fact that Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone has started Ralph Cu in several of their games means he believes the rookie forward can deliver.

But a near triple-double performance from Cu is something else.

Cu turned in the finest game of his young PBA career as he put up 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists to lift the Gin Kings to a 95-88 win over NorthPort in the Philippine Cup at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Sunday, April 14.

He fell just a dime short of becoming the first rookie to record a triple-double since teammate and former league MVP Scottie Thompson achieved the feat in 2016.

“I do not think we expected it this early. Certainly not when we drafted him,” Cone said.

Like a grizzled veteran, Cu made all the right plays from start to finish, shooting a sizzling 6-of-11 from beyond the arc and setting up his teammates down the stretch as Ginebra won back-to-back games to improve to 5-3.

Cu drained his sixth and final triple with under three minutes remaining to break an 85-85 tie then assisted on a pair of Christian Standhardinger buckets inside the final two minutes that sealed the win for the Gin Kings.

“Is it a surprise that he is playing this well? Yeah, certainly. But we expected him to play well. He started our games,” said Cone.

“We expect him to play well. He is not doing anything in the game that he does not do in practice, to put it that way. He practices like he played today.”

Draft steal

Ginebra landed Cu at the end of the second round as the No. 23 pick in the previous PBA Draft.

His selection did not come as a surprise, considering Cu suited up for the Gin Kings in the PBA 3×3 and the PBA On Tour offseason series.

Cone, though, said Ginebra picked Cu not just because of their ties.

“It was not a pick like we were doing it just because he played for our [On] Tour team. We were sitting on pins and needles hoping we could get him, that no one else would draft him,” said Cone.

“And no one else knew him like we did.”

If several teams slept on Cu on draft day, his all-around performance has put the PBA on notice.

“Triple-double, these are big numbers for anybody. So he just kind of announced himself to the league. I’m sure the next time out, they’re going to be a little bit more conscious of him,” said Cone.

Benefitting from Cu, Standhardinger finished with a game-high 25 points on top of 17 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, while Scottie Thompson also did it all with 10 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

Jamie Malonzo added 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, but the injury he suffered just as the game ended put a dampener on the win.

Arvin Tolentino netted 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the losing effort as the Batang Pier absorbed their second straight loss to fall to 4-3.

The Scores

Barangay Ginebra 95 – Standhardinger 25, Cu 24, Malonzo 14, Ahanmisi 13, Thompson 10, J.Aguilar 4, David 3, Pringle 2, Tenorio 0, Pinto 0, Onwubere 0.

NorthPort 88 – Tolentino 19, Munzon 12, Navarro 12, Bulanadi 11, Yu 8, Amores 7, Zamar 6, Calma 4, Lucero 4, Cuntapay 3, Flores 2, Rosales 0, Paraiso 0.

Quarters: 30-21, 43-53, 73-70, 95-88.

– Rappler.com

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