The last 16 months have been turbulent for Ping Exciminiano.
On the verge of gaining a two-year deal with Rain or Shine, the eight-year vet had a lapse in judgment. He played in a panalay game that led to one of the most feared injuries in sports — a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Rain or Shine withdrew the offer soon after.
As he recovered, the 32-year-old admitted that doubts hounded him. He even questioned himself on whether he can still compete.
“Actually last year September, binigyan na ako ng signal ng doctor ko na pwede na ulit ako maglaro. But that time, wala ako team,” shared the native of Olongapo City.
“I feel na hindi ganoon kadali physically and mentally na babalik ka agad sa paglalaro. So habang wala akong team, nag-focus lang ako magpalakas sa katawan and mental ko.
“Thankful ako kay Lord kasi ‘yun, pagsubok na binigay Niya sa akin, marami ako natutunan sa buhay. Nagpapasalamat ako lalo sa asawa ko [EJ Exciminiano] dahil sa kabila ng nangyari, siya lang ang nakapitan ko sa lahat ng struggle ko. Lagi nya sinsabi ‘pag may nawala, may kapalit na mas malaki si Lord,” he continued.
TNT gave Exciminiano a second chance by offering him a one-year deal during the off-season. And by some deal, Chot Reyes loaned the 6-foot defensive specialist to his brother Mike in KCS Computer Specialist-Mandaue.
However, Exciminiano could not find his groove in his first eight games in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup. He normed just 0.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in only four minutes of game time.
Still, Coach Mike remained patient with him.
“Nagpapasalamat ako ng sobra kay Coach Mike dahil ‘yung patience and tiwala na binigay niya sa akin, hindi nagbago. Kahit hindi ako gaano nakalaro ng eight games sa team, nandun pa rin ‘yung tiwala na binibigay niya sa akin.”
In their final game for the elimination round, Exciminiano proved that he still belonged.
Against Dumaguete, the Exciminiano of old showed up. He dropped 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field along with four rebounds and three steals.
It also came at the most opportune time for KCS, as up next for Mandaue is the semifinals on Tuesday.
For Exciminiano, the timing is just about perfect.
“Malaking bagay para sa akin kasi malaking boost ng confidence ko ‘to heading to playoffs. Alam naman natin na iba na ‘yung intensity sa playoffs,” he said.
“At least madala ko ‘yung momentum this game going to the playoffs.”