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Tiebreaker Times


Matt Salem hopes to have shared Go for Gold moment with J-jay Alejandro

As the confetti showered down in the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Thursday evening, the stacked Go for Gold Scratchers gathered together. It had been a special ride for the collection of top prospects entering the 2018 PBA Draft.

“The only people left from last year’s team was me and Kuya Jerwin [Gaco]. This team’s amazing, really special. Everyone knows each other so well,” reflected Matt Salem, who averaged 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game during the campaign. “It’s crazy how short of time we had to learn each other positioning-wise and know our style. We still clicked. Off the court, we’re really close.

“It’s really a strong squad and I’m glad to have been part of it.”

But if there’s one person whom the 24-year-old stretch forward wanted to be part of this moment, it was his running partner with the NU Bulldogs, J-jay Alejandro.

During the Go for Gold’s initial foray in the second league during the Aspirants’ Cup, Salem and Alejandro were the team’s initial pick-ups. However, the two were separated, as Alejandro signed an exclusive deal with the Bataan Risers.

“Yeah. I miss him. But it was what he thinks the best for him – leaving Go for Gold – like the NBA, it’s a business,” expressed Salem.

“I definitely miss him, I wish he was here.”

Still, it did not deter the 6-foot-4 forward as he was able to come out of his shell.

All through out the conference, Salem showed that he is not just a spot-up shooter, playing the role of utility for the Scratchers.

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But even with a spectacular campaign, Salem knows that he still has a lot to improve on from now until the 2018 PBA Draft.

“I’m really not thinking of the draft because I’m still working my way to getting to hit the professional level. I think I have a long way to go. I know my flaws and I know my strengths but I worked on it here in the D-League and in the MPBL,” he opined.

“To get to the professional level, I still have a lot to learn. This was a good experience for me. I learned a lot from coach Charles [Tiu]. He did a lot for me but it’s still a long way to go from what he wants me to be.”

By the time the 2018 rookie draft rolls around, Salem hopes that he and Alejandro can be in the same class.

One last time.

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