MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra's rookies got precious court time on Sunday when they played the Meralco Bolts, with Arvin Tolentino featuring heavily, while Jerrick Balanza and Kent Salado entered the floor late.
Tolentino, the 10th overall pick in the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft, got the starting nod and played over 21 minutes, putting up 11 points after making four of his eight attempts while also grabbing four rebounds.
With the Gin Kings in control late, head coach Tim Cone gave time to Jerrick Balanza and Kent Salado, the 13th and 22nd picks, respectively. Balanza had three points and an assist in six minutes, while Salado had one rebound in over four minutes of playing time.
Cone was pleased with what he saw from his youngsters in what turned out to be a 105-91 victory for the Gin Kings.
"Arvin is a talent," Cone said of Tolentino, who played for Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University in the UAAP. "I've been saying it the day we drafted him. He is a talented kid. And he's versatile."
While Tolentino is known for his high-scoring ways in college, Cone noted that he has a varied skillset.
"He's not just a shooter," the coach said. "He can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound, he had a nice blocked shot today. He's very long, so he's really talented, and I think his game can really grow with the kind of style of play that we play in."
The Ginebra coaches are now working with Tolentino to expand his game even further, and Cone expects the young player to grow by leaps and bounds.
"I can't imagine what he's gonna be like a year or two from now. It's just his first couple of games and he hasn't had any practice, but he's still making an impact," he said.
Balanza and Salado are not getting as many minutes, but Cone still sees promise in them.
He called Balanza a "hard-driving player," as the former Colegio de San Juan de Letran star does everything with purpose inside the court. "You love having those kinds of guys. That's gonna make him a really good player," Cone said.
Salado, who starred for Arellano University in the NCAA, won't get much game time as he backs up Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio, and Scottie Thompson in Ginebra's guard rotation. But Cone said he should improve nonetheless from learning and competing against those three players in their daily practices.
"He's learning from the best. He's learning from LA, he's learning from Stanley, he's learning from Scottie," Cone said of Salado. "I mean, how could he have better mentors than those three guys? So he's in a really good situation for him in his career."