Ferd Lewis: Da Silva gives University of Hawaii basketball team a defensive presence
University of Hawaii basketball fans met forward Bernardo da Silva on Friday night and it was love at first sight. And first block.
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University of Hawaii basketball fans met forward Bernardo da Silva on Friday night and it was love at first sight.
And first block.
When da Silva, a 6-foot, 9-inch freshman from Rio das Ostras, Brazil, rejected Bryce Morague’s shot at the 11-minute, 35-second point in the second half and a Stan Sheriff Center gathering of 3,481 responded with oohs and aahs, it marked the beginnings of a potentially great friendship as well as the new season.
The game itself, a ragged 65-52 Rainbow Warriors victory over out-manned Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, was never in doubt.
UH led from the 18-second mark on Samuta Avea’s 3-pointer and it was just a matter of what the final score would be in a game that UH led by as many as 25 points at several junctures.
Not even an uncharacteristic off night by 3-point specialist Eddie Stansberry could put the ’Bows’ opener of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic in jeopardy. Stansberry connected on just two of 13 shot attempts (1-for-9 from 3-point range) and five points. Not until the final four minutes did Stansberry, UH’s team leader in 3-pointers last season, make his first one of the night.
But this tipoff of the ’Bows’ 100th season of basketball was notable mainly for Avea’s career highs in points (15) and rebounds (9), acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen’s smooth assumption of the controls in the absence of ailing Eran Ganot and the eye-opening debut of da Silva.
Perhaps not since Isaac Fotu debuted in 2013 has a true freshman made such an impressive instant impact for UH.
Da Silva was the ’Bows’ — and the game’s — second highest scorer with 11 points and had seven rebounds in 18 minutes. But more than the numbers was the athleticism and instinct he displayed in the process underlined by two blocks and a defensive presence that altered several shots and caused the Rattlers to toss up an airball.
The Rattlers had enough problems finding the basket without da Silva’s emergence, flirting with a record Stan Sheriff Center low shooting percentage (23%) before finishing at 27.9%.
“I was just trying to make plays to help the team,” da Silva said. “When I got (the first block), I could hear the crowd. I liked that. It fired me up.”
When he swatted his second shot, with 33.1 seconds left, it halted the procession of fans to the exit on the concourse.
The 200-pound da Silva is still a raw talent, growing into his body and the American version of the game. But his wide wingspan, quickness, jumping ability and athleticism suggest he could be really special for the ’Bows as he matures and gains experience.
Wherever he was Friday night, Ganot was undoubtedly cheered by the signs saying, “Get Well Coach Ganot” — and the play of his young recruits.
Invited walk-on Kameron Ng, the state high school Player of the Year last season at St. Francis, got his first college basket, a 3-pointer, on his first shot 38 seconds after stepping on the court.
Ng finished with five points in 11 minutes.
UH returns to action Sunday against South Dakota in what figures to be a more challenging contest.
And another opportunity to watch the emergence of da Silva, da silver lining of the season opener.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820.