MANILA, Philippines–Just like his new mentor, Kayel Locke is confident that he’ll get his act together just in time for Rain or Shine.
Speaking to reporters after the Elasto Painters’ narrow 69-68 loss to defending champion Magnolia, Locke said it was trying to getting a good feel for the referees’ calls more than adjusting to the physicality of the game that threw him off his rhythm.
“I think the physicality to me isn’t that big of a point,” said the 25-year-old replacement for Joel Wright.
“It’s up to me [to adjust to] how the referees call certain things,” Locke added. “[T]here are certain things that they let things be. You kind of have to make sure you don’t use hands or anything like that.”
Locke, already hobbled by four fouls in the first two frames of the match, was only able to register 13 points and nine rebounds—a far cry from Magnolia’s Romeo Travis, who scored 26 and grabbed 14 boards.
“I just got here four, five days ago, so I’m still trying to get everything under my belt,” he assured. “So once that happens, things will look good moving forward.’
His mentor, Caloy Garcia, is just as confident: “I think he has much, much more to show.”
“When things are kind of not going your way, it’s hard to get over that hump,” said Locke. “But I think midway the second half, we found a little bit of rhythm—the guys started to play well.”
With four minutes left to play, Rain or Shine managed to claw back from 10 points down and tie the game.
Their record, now 1-3, would’ve been different had skipper Gabe Norwood sank the mid-ranged jumper he uncorked just in time to beat the buzzer.
“We just got to keep getting better in practice,” Locke said. “I think we’ll be fine moving forward.”