Jonathan Grey was never fielded by Meralco head coach Norman Black in five of their six games in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup — a puzzling move, knowing that Grey had logged in a good amount of minutes last Philippine Cup.
The 25-year-old rookie out of College of St. Benilde was only able to play a total of 5:55 minutes in six games, with his playing time solely coming during the Bolts’ match versus San Miguel last April 2, in which they lost, 99-92.
After that, Grey saw no further action in their next two assignments against Alaska and Blackwater, and was only seen sitting on the bench for the whole 48-minute stretches of both outings.
But this all changed one Wednesday night, in their match against Jameel McKay and the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
After spending so many games on the sidelines, Grey finally got his feet wet, playing 19:37 minutes of action. He also maximized the playing time he was given, producing eight markers and three boards.
“Siguro right timing lang,” humbly said Grey moments after the Bolts’ 81-66 victory over the Fuel Masters, which helped them clinch a playoff berth. “Medyo malas si JD (Jared Dillinger). Ready lang naman din ako.
“Mahalaga ‘pag ginamit ka ni coach, ready ka lang.”
Being a DNP-coach’s decision for a long time can truly take its toll on players. Grey is therefore thankful that his Meralco teammates and practices with Chooks Gilas Pilipinas helped keep him on track.
“Actually, mahirap talaga yung matagal kang ‘di naglalaro tapos bigla kang maglalaro. Pero buti na lang, nakatulong sa’kin teammates ko na lagi akong tinutulungan na ‘sige lang, laro ka lang, ‘wag ka mawalan ng kumpiyansa.
“Sama na rin dun yung Gilas — may extra training ako. Bukod sa Meralco practice, nakakatulong sa’kin yung Gilas. So hindi ako nawawala sa kundisyon, hindi nawawala yung timing ko,” explained the Gilas pool member.
He may have just scored eight, but those were eight confident points indeed. Add in that his notable outing comes after his 19-point outburst last Friday in the Luzon leg of the 2017 PBA All-Star Week in Lucena, Quezon, where he led Chooks Gilas to a 122-111 victory over the PBA Luzon All-Stars.
Asked if that particular performance of his boosted his confidence, Grey believes so.
“Siguro, oo,” opened Grey. “Kasi maganda yung laro ko rin doon eh. Kumpiyansa ako. Siguro kaya rin ako ginamit, nakita ni Coach [Norman Black] na pwede ako maglaro.”
Now that the Bolts have finally clinched a playoff spot, and still with three games left in the eliminations, Grey vowed that he will always be ready if ever he will be given the chance to log in ample amount of minutes in their coming games.
“Kasi anytime puwede ka tawagin ni coach, so siguro pinaka mahalaga is to stay fit. Always be ready, be confident, para kahit two minutes, one minute ka ipasok ni coach, makakatulong ka kahit saan.”