Mike Cortez admitted he was surprised when Meralco had let him go during the offseason via a trade.
“It’s always a surprise when you get traded. At Meralco we had a good core group and I thought we were going to build around that; when I got traded it caught me off-guard,” the veteran Guard said after Blackwater punched a ticket to the quarter-finals Sunday.
But as the professional that he is, Cortez just accepted the decision and moved forward to a new chapter in his PBA career.
With the Elite needing a steady playmaker after the departure of Brian Heruela, Cortez proved to be a good fit. In the PBA Philippine Cup, Cortez averaged 9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 5.1 APG.
“It took me a while to find my place in the rotation or find my game here. It’s been a rollercoaster this conference. I just tried to stay focused and kept working hard and it finally paid off,” the 13-year veteran shared.
In Blackwater’s 108-99 win over the Mahindra Enforcers, Cortez notched a new career-high 30 points in a timely explosion. He scored 12 in the fourth period to help the Elite survive a hard-fighting Enforcers crew.
“I just tried to win. If it was my turn to score tonight, then it is my turn. I’ve been passing a lot during this conference and try to get my teammates in my rhythm,” he said.
Embracing his role for his new team, Cortez just enters each practice session with the aim to do his best in making an impact and sharing knowledge to the next generation.
“I just try to be a good example for these guys. We have a lot of young guys so I have to come in and show why I have been in the league for so long. I have to come in (each practice) with the same concentration and lead by example.”