PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — Timely baskets and huge defensive stops proved to be the winning combination for Pagadian.
In their opener in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup open conference, the Explorers eked out a 56-52 victory against Roxas at the Pagadian City Gymnasium here.
And team captain Edzel Mag-isa was one to be credited for his actions on the floor and on the bench.
On the court, he made his shots fall when they were needed the most by his squad.
The 6-foot-5 big man hyped up the Pagadian bench and their supporters after canning back-to-back and-ones off post moves to give his side a slim 49-46 lead with 4:45 to go.
And that was by design.
“Alam naman natin na malaking bagay ang beterano,” said Pagadian head coach Gherome Ejercito.
“Kaya dapat kailangan i-take advantage ‘yung lakas niya. Yung strength niya sa post kaya ayun ang binibigay namin sa kanya.”
Then came the defensive tenacity of the Explorers.
They held the Vanguards to just six points the rest of the way, limiting them to just a 3-of-8 clip from the field.
And for Mag-isa, his presence was felt even he was on the bench by giving advice to his younger teammates.
“Our team is younger kaya sabi ko sa teammates ko, yung kalaban namin if they play wiser, tayo we play smarter,” said the Manok ng Bayan player of the game, who tallied 11 points, 12 rebounds, and a steal in just 17:42 of floor time.
Despite most of the players of Pagadian being young, they still have the composure to finish close games, thanks to the veteran leadership of Mag-isa.
“Yung team namin is younger than others. Makikita mo naman na nandoon ‘yung stamina ng mga bata, ‘yung bilis,” said Mag-isa.
“Pero at the end, doon pa rin makikita kung sino yung smarter players so ‘yun ‘yung key kung bakit nanalo kami.”
And whether he takes the important baskets or let his teammates finish the job while watching from the sidelines, it’s okay for the veteran as long as the end result will be in their favor.
“For me kasi as a veteran, ang mission namin is manalo whoever the best player is. Ang importante we win.”