ALCANTARA, CEBU – In a career that had already spanned 16 years, Paulo Hubalde has seen it all.
But come Sunday when the winner-take-all game of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup between MJAS Zenith-Talisay and KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue tips off here at the Civic Center, the 5-foot-11 guard will be playing his heart out. And it’s because this game will hold a special place for him.
“Hindi lang ito para sa career ko. Ito lang ang liga na naglalaro ngayon, tayo lang ang pro na naglalaro. Lahat nakatingin sa atin,” he said.
“Sa akin, malaking piece sa buhay ko yung darating na Game Three na ito.”
Game Three though would not have been possible without Hubalde taking charge for the Aquastars.
Hubalde, who was named part of the league’s All-Visayas team, shouldered the blame for their 66-67 Game One loss last Friday. The 5-foot-11 floor general only had six points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the game.
“Yung leadership ko, kailangan talaga kanina. Inaamin ko na nawala siya last game,” he said.
In Game Two, MJAS-Talisay saw their strong 17-4 start vanquish before their eyes as they played into the grinding game of KCS-Mandaue. The Computer Specialists even took the lead, 48-41, early in the final frame.
“Mindset ko kanina, hanggang may buhay pa may pag-asa. Sabi ko, ‘Tiyagain natin’ kasi laro nila yung nilaro namin kanina. Credit to my teammates for not giving up,” said Hubalde, who had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the victory.
“Hindi natin na-sweep yung first round ng ganun lang. It meant something.”
Come Sunday, Hubalde and the Aquastars will be playing their hearts out. This as a championship will be the best way to could repay MJAS Zenith owner Samson Lato and team manager Jhon Santos for never leaving them despite play in their other league, Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, stopping.
“Gusto ko rin suklian si Uncle Sam at Boss Jhon because they took care of us in this pandemic. Talagang gusto ko ibigay sa kanila ito dahil hindi nila kami iniwan.”