It has been a while since Gilas cadet Fonzo Gotladera suited up for the NLEX Road Warriors and set foot in a PBA court — May 27, to be exact, when the MVP franchise took on Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.
That date was his return to the rotation after being deactivated from the main roster last March 30 to give way to then-new acquisition Rabeh Al-Hussaini. But after that, unfortunately, his tenure in the active list did not last long.
But then, a new season of the league unfurled last December 17. In the opening rites at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, he went to the parade with his team, beaming with a smile as if he knows that his time will come this season.
And that moment came on Christmas day.
After sitting out in their 2018 Philippine Cup opener against Kia Picanto last December 20, Gotladera returned to the thick of things in the Road Warriors’ tilt against the Globalport Batang Pier at the Philippine Arena.
Making things even better for the Ateneo de Manila product was that he was even made a starter by coach Yeng Guiao. With this opportunity, Gotladera took full advantage, scoring eight and grabbing five rebounds.
“It’s giving guys like Michael Miranda and Fonzo Gotladera some time,” explained Guiao of the logic behind giving the seldom-used guys more time on the court.
“Winning and being able to use a deep rotation is big.”
That move by Guiao paid dividends at the end, as the Road Warriors reigned victorious over the Terrence Romeo-less GlobalPort, 115-104, to start their campaign in the all-Filipino tilt with a league-leading 2-0 win-loss slate.
And as for Gotladera, he felt like he was able to deliver the goods in this somehow comeback game of his.
“I think I was solid, and nabigay ko yung hinhingi sa’kin nina coach,” the 25-year-old told Tiebreaker Times moments after the match. “I knew that dadating din yung chance ko to play and it was a matter of staying ready.
“Alam naman namin, with Coach Yeng, he’ll always give us chances. So I just stayed ready, kept working and yun, nag-payback din yung hardwork.”
Now, more eyes will surely be on him if he can provide what is needed from him consistently. With that, the 6-foot-5 big man is keeping his fingers crossed, at the same time assuring that he will simply focus on helping his team whatever way he can.
“Hopefully. Me naman I’m focused on helping my team, doing the dirty work, and the intangibles.”