Gab Banal knows that the College of St. Benilde are still gaining experience heading into the new NCAA season. And he wants to bring that experience after joining the Blazers in their 2019 PBA D-League campaign.
The Go for Gold-backed St. Benilde hired Banal – along with Leonard Santillan – just days prior to D-League quarterfinals. They are up against the Foundation Group’s top-seeded team Centro Escolar University Scorpions.
“They’re still a college team.
“They’re still learning, so that’s what me and Santi [Santillan] and the other guys are trying to give them – experience,” said Banal, who played in three games for the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers this conference.
Inexperience reared its ugly head when CSB faced CEU on Tuesday. They built a huge 20-point lead in the third quarter, only to cough it up and allow the Scorpions to tie the game and even give themselves a chance to win in the end.
“They pressed us for a quality forty minutes, and I think the lack of experience showed in the CSB guards,” Banal rued. “At that point, you just need to slow down, because we don’t need to be [playing] the same [game] with CEU.”
Luckily for Benilde, the MPBL MVP was there to save the day.
He sank the go-ahead three-pointer from the top with 17.5 seconds left. His younger teammates then stepped up on the other end to bag the 84-81 win and extend their series versus CEU, who owns a twice-to-beat advantage.
That shot punctuated Banal’s triumphant return to Go for Gold, whom he helped win the 2018 Foundation Cup title. But even if the 28-year-old guard saved them from an early exit, he reiterated that he’s just out there to help the younger ones.
“Yeah, that’s why Coach Charles [Tiu] and TY [Tang] brought us: to give them experience,” the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 PBA Draft said.
“Some of the things that we learned before, we can teach these young kids, and we’ll make them better players come NCAA.”