Of all the players on the Meralco Bolts’ side, nobody ever thought that the underappreciated Jason Ballesteros would become the hero they need.
The six-foot-six center saved the Bolts and their 2018 Philippine Cup campaign, scoring his team’s last three points and doing it on defens,e to help the Orangemen squeak past the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 84-82, Sunday night.
This was definitely a defining moment for the 32-year-old, who was just three points shy of a double-double, as he had seven points and 17 rebounds.
Ballesteros made a key putback with 36.2 seconds left to play; contested Scottie Thompson’s floater on the other end; and split his charities in the final 17 ticks to help the Bolts get their fourth win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
But for him, his end-game heroics were simply brought about by sheer luck.
“Buenas lang,” said the Gilas Pilipinas pioneer, whom the Bolts acquired prior to this season through free agency.
Meralco head coach Norman Black, on the other hand, sung praises of the seven-year journeyman.
“Ballesteros stepped up for us in rebounding the basketball, which is something we really needed,” he said.
For Ballesteros though, what made him and the Bolts play inspired ball was their eagerness to keep their playoff hopes alive, which they were able to accomplish. They have now improved to 4-6 and have climbed to the ninth spot.
“Sabi ni coach, kung gusto naming pumasok ng quarters, maglaro kami ng maayos,” Ballesteros shared. “Tsaka lalo ngayon na yung mga big man, kailangang mag-step up kasi malalaki nga ang Ginebra. So yun ang ginawa ko, nagstep up lang.
“Salamat kay Lord.”