It felt surreal for Javee Mocon to go up against the ball club where it all began as Phoenix Super LPG battled Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup Sunday.
The 27-year-old faced his ex-team for the first time since being traded to the Fuel Masters early in the season as they could not come to terms for a new contract, putting an end to negotiations that lasted for months.
He and Phoenix got the best of the Elasto Painters, 106-102, to chalk up their second win in a row after starting the conference with back-to-back losses.
“Surreal ‘yung feeling kasi dati hina-hype ko ‘yung mga teammates ko, si Rey [Nambatac], ‘Kaya mo ‘yan.’ Ngayon, ‘Di mo kaya, ‘di ka makaka-shoot,'” he said in between chuckles moments after the game at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Kakaiba,” added Mocon, who finished with two points, nine rebounds, and three assists.
“At the same time, it’s part of basketball, business, ‘di ba? ‘Di mo alam e. It’s a small world, na next day, magkakalaban na kayo.”
They may have gone their separate ways but Mocon said that the bond he formed with the Elasto Painters remains firm to this day.
So much so that he received some good ol’ ribbing from his former teammates a day before their meeting, particularly Rey Nambatac.
“Sabi niya, ‘Pre, welcome to the Gulag,’” said Mocon, referencing the Call of Duty video game.
“China-chat niya ‘ko kahapon, ‘Sige pre, see you there.'”
And in the game itself, the San Beda product also felt how it was like being on the receiving end of Rain or Shine’s physical play.
“Kilala niyo na ‘yun,” he said, smiling. “Kilala ko naman ‘yang mga ‘yan e, kasi ako expected ko na e. Sina kuya Beau, Ponferrada, kita niyo naman ang daming offensive fouls kanina sa akin. Parang namiss talaga nila ako e, ‘no.”
But at the end of the day, and wherever he goes, Mocon said that the Elasto Painters, the team that picked him sixth in 2018, will always be family.
“Siyempre, ‘di mawawala ‘yun,” he said.
“On and off the court eh. Siyempre, hindi man kami teammates, we’re still brothers off the court.”
The second game of each gameday is also live-streamed on SMART Sports.