Chris Tiu took on a new approach Friday night when he began his sixth professional season by helping Rain or Shine sneak out a victory over TNT KaTropa at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Tiu scored 12 points, half of which came from the free throw line where he made all six attempts as the Elasto Painters beat the KaTropa, 82-79.
One of his trips from the stripe came in the second half when he drew a foul on TNT’s Mo Tautuaa after going for a shot fake, a testament to his trademark court smarts.
While he took just four shots in 16 minutes off the bench, the former national team captain said he’s beginning to think more of being a scorer than the usual.
“Trying to be more offensive-minded – I’m more scoring-minded, if there’s such a word,” Tiu said. “Before I was pass-first, but with the departure of some of our scorers, we have to fill in. Gabe (Norwood) is doing the same thing. I think he’s more of a scorer now than he was before.”
Norwood, who usually prefers to set up scoring opportunities for his teammates than for himself, finished with 11 points despite a 4-of-11 shooting.
Departures of Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and JR Quinahan in the previous season have been the reason for such change in mentality for Tiu and others. But with the way he’s played since way back from late last season, is the ex-Ateneo star heading for the best season of his career?
“Well, knock on wood, I hope I stay healthy,” he said. “But for me I think yung confidence is much higher now especially I know that I’ll be playing a lot of minutes before. That makes a difference in any athlete’s confidence if you know you’re gonna get minutes.
“Coach Caloy (Garcia) has showed that he’s been trusting me now more. I think also this is my sixth year in the PBA, I think dapat lang nakaadjust na ‘ko. It’s been too long. Naturally as a player I’m more of a pass-first player, but I’m kinda changing my mentality to be more aggressive just to facilitate and be more of a leader, especially now that we have a lot of young guys and new personalities in the team. So more on the leadership role siguro,” he added.
Rain or Shine was in command for the second half, holding several double-digit deficits before holding off TNT’s late rally behind long-range threes from Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams to open the season on a high note.