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PBA: Black challenges Lawal to ‘make his teammates better’

Coach Norman Black has challenged Gani Lawal to improve his play-making for the Bolts. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – There is no doubt that Gani Lawal has been quite productive for the Meralco Bolts during his stint for the team in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Lawal, who had stints in the Euroleague and the NBA D-League, is averaging 28.5 points and 22 rebounds per game for Meralco in the conference – superb numbers for any import.

“I mean, let’s not kid ourselves. I think he’s averaging 28 points and 23 rebounds, 22 rebounds a game. So that’s productive,” Meralco coach Norman Black said of his reinforcement.

However, Black is also asking for more from Lawal when it comes to making plays. Lawal is only averaging 1.33 assists per game – while also committing 5.17 turnovers per contest. In their most recent game, a 93-89 loss to Alaska, Lawal was responsible for 8 of their 22 turnovers.

“He has to do a better job of making his teammates better. Because (against Alaska) he had one assist and eight turnovers, and that’s really been the ratio since he’s been here,” Black pointed out.

“So while he does get his points and he does get his rebounds, he also has to focus on how he can make his teammates better — either through setting good screens, or making sure that when he’s double-teamed, he gives up the basketball efficiently,” he added.

Their turnovers were a massive factor in the loss to Alaska last Sunday, as the Aces scored 24 points off their miscues. It didn’t help that Lawal struggled mightily from the free throw line, making just 1 of 7 attempts.

He still finished with 27 points and 26 boards, but could not power the Bolts to victory even as opposing import Chris Daniels was saddled with foul trouble for most of the game.

“I think eight turnovers is just way too many, and I think he’s averaging about six a game for the tournament. So those are areas where he has to improve as an import,” Black said of Lawal.

Lawal and the Bolts get a chance to bounce back on Saturday, when they take on TNT KaTropa.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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