IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY — The Pagadian Explorers sent a warning to the rest of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao Leg playing field, Tuesday.
This as the homegrown-dominated Explorers stunned powerhouse JPS Zamboanga City, 82-68, at the Provincial Gymnasium here.
Playing the hero for Pagadian was Rich Guinitaran, but it wasn’t the case in their first win when they defeated Roxas in overtime, 82-80.
In their triumph against the Vanguards, the CEU product, who transferred to Arellano University late last year, was held to just 10 points and missed six of his 10 shots. He also had a minus-14 rating.
So despite the win, the native of Barangay Bulatok in Pagadian took it personally to bounce back in their next game.
And that, he did spectacularly.
“Nag-training ako sa shooting ko, nag workout talaga ako para makabawi ako ngayon. Buti naman nagbunga yung extra work ko,” said the 6-foot-1 marksman.
He also got a boost from head coach Harold Sta. Cruz, who expressed confidence in Guinitaran despite the cold shooting night in their first match.
“Nanghihinayang si Rich sa game against Roxas. Sabi ko huwag na, a win is a win. Let’s face today’s game, gawin mo kung anong dapat mong gawin, ayun nagdeliver.”
Guinitaran powered his team’s demolition of JPS, unleashing 26 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting, missing just one of his six attempts from downtown, to go with five rebounds and five assists.
He also was a game-high plus-21.
More than those big numbers, what made Guinitaran the hero were the timely baskets he dropped in the fourth frame when Zamboanga threatened to come back.
Leading by just three, the proud Pagadianon went on to score eight unanswered points via a triple, an and-one, and a putback to restore order, 79-68 with just 1:51 left.
“Nagfocus lang kami sa defense nung nakakahabol na yung Zamboanga. Dadating naman ‘yung offense kapag maganda ang defense,” he said.
Pagadian, who has 16 homegrown cagers in their 22-man roster, wants the teams to take notice.
And with back-to-back gritty victories over veteran-filled teams in Roxas and Zamboanga, they surely made a statement.
“Masarap sa feeling na makilala yung Pagadian. Masarap sa feeling na irepresent yung Pagadian kasi this is my city.”