Gryann Mendoza was all set to throw in the towel when TNT fell down big to Purefoods in the PBA 3×3 Third Conference Grand Finals title bout Sunday.
The Tropang Giga were actually keeping it close but struggled to find the mark all of a sudden, an opening that the Tender Juicy Titans capitalized on by pulling off a fiery run to establish an 18-13 lead with only 1:48 remaining.
“Wala talagang nangyayari e,” said the seasoned forward.
“Actually, gumive na nga ako at one point e. Wala na talagang mapipiga.“
His faith, however, got restored when teammate Lervin Flores, who’s more known as a bruiser, made a rare deuce from the corner to slice the deficit.
“Simula nung nakita ko ‘yung two-points ni Lervin, parang dun ako naniwala ulit na, ‘Lord, ito na ba ‘yung sign mo? Para sa amin ba talaga ‘to?’” he said.
It was, indeed, the sign of greater things to come. That deuce sparked a 6-1 run, capped off by Samboy De Leon’s pressure-packed free throws, to tie the game at 19-all with 32.9 seconds left eventually led to overtime.
“Ayun na. Nagkatuloy-tuloy na ‘yung mga sequence — na-foul si Samboy, nag-free throw siya dalawa — pasok pa ‘yung dalawa,” said Mendoza, who also played a crucial role in that run by sinking back-to-back lay-ups.
And come the extra period, the 31-year-old shone the brightest, sinking the step-back two-pointer off an Almond Vosotros pass to complete the comeback — and give TNT its first grand championship with a 21-19 victory.
Mendoza finished with a game-high eight points in a performance that has his name etched in Tropang Giga 3×3 lore but refuses to take all the credit.
“Nung nalibre na ako ng tira, hindi na ako ‘yun. Siya na talaga ‘yun e. And ako ngayon, binibigay ko na lang talaga ‘yung glory na para sa Kanya — Siya naman talaga lahat e,” said the Far Eastern University product.
Mendoza also tipped his hat to Vosotros, who’s usually the closer for TNT but went for a change by issuing the game-winning assist.
“Sabi ni Almond, kahit ano mangyari, two points tayo. So, ‘yun lang ‘yung sinunod ko. Ginawa lang namin ‘yung play. Kung sino malibre, siya ‘yung titira. And nagkataon lang na ako na ‘yung tumira,” he recalled.
“Coming from Almond, scoring champion namin ‘yan e. He took one step down in humility, ‘di niya pinilit na siya ‘yung tatapos. He trusts his teammates.”
The past year has been full of blessings for Mendoza. Before being assigned to TNT 3×3, he was part of the regular Tropang Giga squad that ruled the 2021 Philippine Cup at the expense of former team Magnolia.
Also a one-time VisMin Super Cup titlist, the Davao City native said that whatever success he’s having is all thanks to his faith.
“Wala namang extraordinary sa akin e,” offered Mendoza, a winner of two PBA championships. “Siya lang talaga ‘yun.
“Ang ginawa ko lang talaga, sineek ko lang Siya daily, followed His word, and eventually, binibigyan Niya ako ng favor along the way — kung saan man ako mapunta, andun Siya,” he furthered.