Jackson Corpuz himself admitted that he was feeling some pressure to deliver for Magnolia in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, so much that his performances suffered on the court.
“Sabi nila Coach [Chito Victolero], parang nakikita nila na ang tight daw ng katawan ko, ang tight ko gumalaw,” disclosed the 6-foot-4 workhorse.
“Sabi ko, ‘Coach hindi ko alam kung nape-pressure ako.'”
Corpuz had a decent outing in their come-from-behind 103-100 victory over NLEX in their bubble debut, finishing with nine points. But versus Alaska, where their fightback fell short, 81-87, he only had two points.
The Philippine Christian University alumnus bounced back versus Meralco with 12 points, although the Hotshots bowed in overtime, 104-109. He failed to carry that over versus Phoenix, though, scoring just two.
“Struggle talaga ako eh, kasi [magmula] first game pa lang namin, up-down, up-down ako,” said Corpuz, who had a solid debut for the Hotshots in the season opener last March 8, with 16 and 13 versus San Miguel.
But it helps a lot to have the guidance of a veteran. Corpuz is thankful to have Magnolia main man Paul Lee as his roommate in the bubble, as the gunslinging guard has been helping him ease the struggle.
“Nakatulong talaga sa akin si Paul, ginagabayan niya ‘ko. [Sabi niya sa’kin] Relax ka lang, tuloy mo lang — kung ano ‘yung iniisip mo, ‘wag mo muna isipin. So binigyan niya ako ng pwede kong panoorin para ma-relax ‘yung utak ko.”
And based on Sunday night, Lee’s advice bore fruit.
Corpuz churned out his best outing so far this season, finishing with 20 points on 66-percent shooting from the field alongside six rebounds. And he led Magnolia to a 102-92 win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Yes, Corpuz had his own Manila Clasico moment.
“Sobrang excited ko talaga rito sa Manila Clasico,” he said.
But despite impressing in the victory — which snapped their three-game losing skid in the bubble — the former PBA D-League standout said that it was still a collective effort that made wonders for the Hotshots.
Besides Corpuz, five more players finished in twin digits in the win. His roommate and Barroca each produced 15 points; Rome Dela Rosa made 13; while Ian Sangalang and Chris Banchero added 13 and 10, respectively.
“Team effort talaga. Lahat talaga kami tulong-tulong, hindi lang naman ako. Gumanda ‘yung laro ko pero as a team talaga,” he said.
“At thankful din talaga ako sa coaches kasi hindi sila gumive up sa akin.”