MANILA, Philippines -- Nards Pinto was a deserving winner of Player of the Game honors after Barangay Ginebra overcame Rain or Shine, 116-108, to open their campaign in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup.
This, according to Ginebra head coach Tim Cone who praised the guard's crucial contributions in their second-half runs that allowed them to overhaul a nine-point Rain or Shine lead. It was Pinto's three-pointer that tied the game in the final quarter and sparked Ginebra's pivotal 11-0 run that put them in control of the contest.
"We didn't panic when we fell behind for that short time and got back into the game with a couple of big 3s, one from him [Pinto]," said Cone after their win. "And then we made a little bit of a run, again from Nards. So, he's a well-deserved Best Player of the Game today. Really well-deserved."
Pinto finished with 12 points off the bench, making five of his seven field goals including two three-pointers. He also had three assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes of game time.
Making his contributions all the more crucial is that Ginebra missed veteran point guard LA Tenorio for virtually the entire game. Tenorio played less than three minutes after feeling a "twinge" in his abdominals, and finished with just three points.
"We wanted to keep Scottie [Thompson's] minutes down a little bit, and we didn't think LA would have a lot of minutes," said Cone. "So we knew Nards was gonna come out and man, he really played in that fourth quarter."
Pinto, for his part, said he is always ready to play when his number is called, whether he is given spot minutes or longer playing time.
"Ang [mantra] namin is if may na-down na isa, the next guy steps up," he said. "Sinasabihan kami lahat na ready lahat para 'pag pinasok sa game."
Best known as a pesky defender, Pinto also downplayed his exploits on the offensive end against the Elasto Painters.
"Suwerte eh. Suwerte kanina na pumapasok' yung tira e. So ayun. Tinry ko lang ulit nung naka-shoot ako, so pumasok ng maganda naman," he added. "Tsaka kami naman, lahat sa Ginebra, before practice nag-shu-shooting kami. Buti naman nagamit namin sa game."
Pinto's efforts also earned praise from Barangay Ginebra point guard Scottie Thompson, the reigning PBA Most Valuable Player.
"Ang kinaganda kay Nards talaga, ready siya every time tinatawag 'yung pangalan niya, kahit late siya ginagamit or never siya ginamit," Thompson noted. "Talagang ready siya at siya 'yung pinakauna sa practice."
"To be honest, siya 'yung pagdating ko, pawis na pawis na siya. Talagang it's all about hard work, 'yung hard work niya noong playoffs. Credit sa kaniya talaga na naging ready siya."
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