Calvin Oftana on Wednesday played the best game of his young PBA career thus far, and in the process broke a record untouched for 34 long years.
Facing a veteran-laden Meralco side, the NLEX neophyte erupted for a career-high 34 big points, aided by eight three-pointers. And that, according to league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III, is an all-time record for a rookie.
Wondering whose record did he surpass? Well, the 25-year-old just broke Allan Caidic’s seven triples for Great Taste in Game Two of the Open Conference Finals on June 16, 1987 – in a 135-134 overtime loss to Tanduay.
“Honestly, hindi ko talaga alam ‘yung record,” he told Tiebreaker Times. “If na-break ko po, sige po. Pero isa lang din po ako sa mga tagahanga ng mga superstar ng PBA at sa mga bigating pangalan sa liga.
“Blessed lang ako na pumasok ‘yung mga tira ko,” humbly added the NCAA Season 95 MVP, who was averaging just 6.8 points prior to his outburst.
Unfortunately, Oftana couldn’t celebrate such a remarkable outing. All his efforts went for naught as the Road Warriors’ comeback fell short, 101-104.
The San Beda product lamented the missed opportunity of improving their chances of placing no. 6 in the team standings. That would have put them in a best-of-three series against the third-seeded team.
Now they fall to 5-6, and could end up in seventh. They will likely face the Bolts, who clinched the no. 2 seed with Wednesday’s win.
“‘Yun nga eh, importante kasi ‘yung game namin. ‘Yung nasa isip talaga namin is to secure the number six spot para naman maging okay ‘yung kalalagyan namin,” said Oftana.
As tough as it was to fathom, though, Oftana and NLEX are simply charging it to experience heading into the playoffs.
“Yun nga sabi ni coach. Dapat may natututunan kami every game – manalo man o matalo,” said the former Gilas PIlipinas member.
“Sa akin naman, oo confidence-booster talaga ito para sa akin for our next game. Pero ako naman, kung ano man maitulong ko sa team kahit maliliit na bagay gagawin ko para manalo kami.”