GABE Norwood has simple goals: to improve his game and, if his Rain or Shine team improves with him, so much the better.

“We’re just trying to get better every time,” said the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period March 29 to April 4 after helping his team notch a second straight win last Sunday in the Fiesta Conference.

The cruising 90-82 victory over Barako Coffee assured the Elasto Painters’ hold of a share of second-running spot with a 2-1 win-loss record and helped ease the stigma of the vastly retooled franchise’s all-time worst 0-6 start in the Philippine Cup.

Norwood was certainly a very big factor.

The 2008-09 Rookie of the Year shone on both ends of the floor in helping RoS follow up its 84-77 triumph over Sta. Lucia Realty exactly a week before. Against the Energy Coffee Masters he scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and issued seven assists, while anchoring the defense on the prolific Sammy Moore.

Those numbers jacked his three-game averages in the tournament to 16.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists, not to mention a sprinkling of steals and blocks, for the 25-year-old guard-forward’s finest start in a conference yet.

“Gabe has been doing a great job defensively, which is translating into good offense for him,” noted Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia. “He is truly stepping up at both ends of the floor.”

The citation is only the third in Norwood’s young career and everybody agrees it will certainly not be the last.

He has other things crowding his mind. “The biggest thing is getting back-to-back wins,” he stated.

The entire RoS crew is of the same mind since it was in the same conference last year that the team co-owned by Terry Que and Raymund Yu established some milestones: all-time bests in start (5-1), winning streak (four) and finish (fourth).

This early in the tournament, Garcia and Norwood declined to predict if the Elasto Painters can reprise or even better their showing last season.

There is only one guarantee, which is to continually improve.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Norwood, “and that’s good.” (NC)