February 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

Terry Foster

Pistons' Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko dueling for playing time

In the last three games, Charlie Villanueva, left, is shooting 2-for-18, and the only reason he’s still playing is because he rebounds — he has more rebounds (11) than points (nine). (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News)

Auburn Hills -- Charlie Villanueva and Jonas Jerebko want to play.

They want to be the focal point of the team.

There's only one problem.

They play the same position — forward — for the Pistons.

"It is not about fight," Pistons point guard Jose Calderon said. "Yes, you are fighting for the same position and you want to work hard and do your best. But at the end of it, you are teammates. You are on the same page here and that is the way this team has to be."

But in another lost season — the Pistons are 61/2 games behind the Bucks for the final playoff spot in the East — guys are playing to impress coach Lawrence Frank for next year.

Mixed results

As Villanueva and Jerebko battle for playing time, they also fight consistency.

Villanueva played less than a minute the first 11 games before he hit a revival. After fighting his way into the rotation, however, he's working his way out of it again.

In the last three games, Villanueva is shooting 2-for-18, and the only reason he's still playing is because he rebounds — he has more rebounds (11) than points (nine).

"Everybody wants to play," Villanueva said.

While Jerebko got his chance, too, before slipping out of favor, he had a nice showing Monday against the Hawks, scoring 21 with six rebounds and three assists.

Still, he's watched 26 of the 59 games.

"Horrible," Jerebko said when asked how it feels to watch a game from the bench. "But I am trying to keep my head up and work on my game and control the things I can control and work on my game."

Pressure spot

Jerebko admits a ticking clock goes off in his head every time he steps off the bench.

He knows he has a matter of minutes to show off for Frank — or he could be riding the bench again.

"Maybe a little bit in the back of my head," Jerebko said. "Right now I am trying to play the right way and the other things will come. Right now I am trying to stay ready.

"When my name is called I am trying to do the best in my situation."

The best situation for Jerebko, however, would also be for him to concentrate on playing.

In a recent interview in a Swedish newspaper, Jerebko's father was quoted as saying he hoped Frank got fired.

Jerebko needs to put all that thinking behind. He, like Villanueva, needs to concentrate on competition.

"I enjoy every competition there is," Jerebko said.

Welcome to the 2013 Pistons training camp.



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