EDINBURG — Coming into Monday’s exhibition game, RGV Vipers rookie Tim Bond, who played four years at Eastern Michigan University, had a face-to-face meeting with coach Joseph Blair.
“I wanted him to get to know me a little bit more, and my style of play,” Bond said. “I basically told him whatever he needs, I’m here for it. I’m that handy guy, whether you need defense, offense whatever it is.”
After the talk, Bond was eager to make his mark Monday.
The Vipers started off a little sluggish, trailing by as many as six points early in the first quarter.
“This is our first time playing against anybody other than ourselves,” Blair said. “I am always going to forgive that first few minutes just with the excuse of their nerves…. Hopefully, that is something that will never happen again, because we need to start strong every single game.”
Los Laguneros de la Comarca, of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional in Mexico, brought an aggressive defensive style that slowed the Vipers’ speed early.
Blair’s first substitution was Bond, and the 6-foot-6 170-pounder made the most of his opportunity. Bond scored six points in the first quarter to help the Vipers start to pull away.
“Tonight was my first time putting him at the point guard position,” Blair said. “He is great at getting out in transition. He has great speed and finishing ability. He’s one of those guys who attacks with a full head of speed. I feel confident he can put that ball up over anybody.”
RGV ran away with the game at the end, winning 157-112 at the Vipers training facility.
Bond finished the game with 15 points on 7-of-8 from the floor, a team-high six assists, a team-high four steals and one block.
Of course, no player is perfect, and Bond is no exception.
“Obviously the one thing we need to work on is shooting,” Blair said. “I was curious to see him handing the ball. He impressed me with that as well tonight.”
Once the Vipers got going, they never looked back, leading by as many as 51 points in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Sampson scored 20 with 3 3-pointers. Bruno Caboclo added 18 points and five rebounds. Danuel House was dominant getting to the lane.
“I felt very comfortable there,” said House, who finished with 16 points, two steals, three assists and three rebounds. “It’s really important (to find an offensive rhythm) early so it sets the tempo for the team.”
Blair and his squad know there is still room for improvement.
“We still need to get better at not point-switching,” House said. “We have been point-switching when we get a little bit lazy. We need to focus on communicating and running to each other, so we can hand off that man on the switch.”
The Vipers had 15 turnovers and only shot 58.8 percent from the free-throw line.
But, the Vipers like what they saw and have plenty to be encouraged about.
“No disrespect to the other side, but we were focused deeply on ourselves,” House said. “We wanted to see if we could execute the things that we have been working on in training camp, to make sure that we can execute defensively and still rebound the ball and push it with pace.”