Jolo Mendoza would rather stay on an even keel even after a breakout performance that helped Converge a great deal in the PBA on Tour, Friday.
The guest player out of Ateneo erupted for 26 points built on seven triples to lead the FiberXers past Phoenix Super LPG, but quickly downplayed that good of an outing and said that he simply stepped up for a crew riddled with injuries.
“Nabigyan ako ng opportunity eh,” he told reporters moments after the 104-90 victory at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“Our team is very depleted today, ang daming may injuries,” he added as the team only played with nine men. “I just wanted to step up for my teammates and for the team And, just to give back kasi nabigyan ako ng opportunity to play.”
Averaging just 1.8 points prior, Mendoza already had 21 points in the first half alone as he helped Converge take the 49-45 lead after trailing early.
But he did not stop there. Although his scoring dwindled in the second half, the former MPBL standout still made a mark in the final minutes. He sparked the key 8-0 run through a triple for a big 94-76 lead with less than five minutes left.
“We were struggling in the first half and it was Jolo who carried us in the first half,” said head coach Aldin Ayo. “Kung hindi, lalayo sa amin ‘yung Phoenix.”
Still, Mendoza insisted that there remains plenty of work to be done, which he’s planning to tackle and address right away as he’s hoping for a place in the 2023 PBA Rookie Draft three months from now.
“I guess it’s just the work coming into fruition. Pero that doesn’t mean I’m done. Malayong-malayo pa,” he offered. “I think this stint in the PBA On Tour showed na marami pa ‘kong kailangang trabahuhin talaga.”
For now, though, the focus is on regaining his game form, as the former Batang Gilas stalwart has just recovered from COVID recently.
His On Tour campaign has actually been full of challenges, to say the least. After acquiring his GAB special guest license (SGL) late, he got sick a couple times, the reason why he’s only played in four of their eight games so far.
“Actually, dalawang beses pa lang ako nag-eensayo since COVID. So kung nakita niyo kanina, hingal na hingal talaga ‘ko. Tsaka pagdating ng fourth quarter nagka-cramps na talaga ako,” he said. “Gapang. Gapang talaga.”
That’s why Mendoza is keen on making the most out of Converge’s remaining games in the preseason tourney to get to where he’d want to be.
“Getting there,” he said.