MANILA – Dominique Sutton has been impressive in the two games he has played for Air21, but Express head coach Franz Pumaren believes their import can still improve as the PBA Governors Cup progresses.
Sutton on Saturday scored 24 points to go along with 16 rebounds, four assists, and six steals in Air21’s 101-86 win over Barako Bull, which put the franchise on top of the league standings with a 2-0 record.
Pumaren, in PBA.ph’s post-game report, said that Sutton is still working his way back to full fitness, having last played a competitive game on May 5.
"He arrived just a couple of days before our first game," Pumaren revealed. "So he was telling me that he just had to get his timing, his rhythm, and he’ll get his legs back."
"I think he's a much better athlete than what he’s showing in the last two games, because I've seen him in the way he jumps and the way he defends," he added.
That Sutton can still improve upon his already solid performances is good news for Air21, which is off to its best start in franchise history. The Express locals have also been playing well to provide back up for Sutton.
"Everybody is stepping up, especially the bench guys," Pumaren noted. "Now, I guess everybody knows their respective roles, and this is a good take off point for our game on Tuesday, which is a big game for us."
"The advantage right now that we have is after that (semi-finals) series last conference, we don’t really need a high-scoring caliber of an import," he added.
"What we really need is our collective effort. Our locals should contribute one way or another, which is what they are doing – not necessarily by scoring, but in the other aspects of the game."
Sutton was the top-scorer against Barako, but the Express again got another solid performance from Asi Taulava, who scored 22 points – highest among local players – to go along with 12 rebounds. Joseph Yeo and Mac Cardona added 17 and 16 markers, respectively.
Air21 will try to extend their winning streak to three games on Tuesday, when they take on the unbeaten Barangay Ginebra Kings.