MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra is starting to reap the rewards of acquiring Jeremiah Gray.
The rookie forward put together his finest performance yet in Gin Kings uniform as Barangay Ginebra turned back erstwhile unbeaten NLEX in a 114-111 win to stay perfect in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday, February 8.
Gray finished with a season-high 19 points built on five three-pointers, with three of those coming inside the last two minutes to help the Gin Kings complete their comeback from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“Miah is having a coming out party this conference. Last game, I thought he was brilliant, and tonight, he was even more brilliant. He’s starting to show what he can do,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.
Gray could not have risen to the occasion at a better time, with the Gin Kings saddled by injuries to big men Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar.
Standhardinger sat out against the Road Warriors with a knee injury, while Aguilar subbed out midway through the fourth quarter and never returned after also sustaining a knee injury.
“With Japeth and Christian out, we need someone like Jeremiah to step up for us, and he did tonight,” said Cone.
It has been a long and arduous journey for the second overall pick to get to where he is today after he sustained a career-derailing ACL injury in December 2021.
Acquired from a trade with Terrafirma just days after draft night, Gray missed the entire Philippine Cup due to his injury.
He finally debuted in the Commissioner’s Cup, where he helped Ginebra capture the championship with conference averages of 4.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.
Gray upped those numbers to 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists as he started for the Gin Kings in their first two games of the Governors’ Cup.
“I think he just needed to develop the confidence of coming out there and I think starting in the last couple of games has given him that boost of confidence,” said Cone.
“He’s not looking over his shoulder, ‘If I make a mistake, I’m coming out of the game.’ So it’s all kind of coalescing together for him right now.”
Cone even likened Gray to PBA great Kenneth Duremdes, a former MVP who played for him at Alaska.
“He’s hitting his shots. Beautiful pull-up. That pull-up reminds me so much of Kenneth Duremdes – that same kind of silky smooth pull-up that he has,” said Cone.
“And he has the ability to shoot deep from three and he can damage you around the rim. And he was actually the guy, in the last two minutes, who went out and guarded the import. He’s just showing the things that he can do.”
Gray will once again be relied on when Ginebra plays its third game in six days against NorthPort on Friday, February 10, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
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