Eloy Poligrates made a strong case for his return to the PBA after being crowned the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Most Valuable Player, Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The ex-pro could hardly celebrate the achievement, though. Two hours after the coronation, his Marinerong Pilipino lost to the BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare, 74-60, in Game Two of the Finals.
The defeat stings much for the Skippers, since they miss out on the chance to sweep the Saints en route to their first-ever title since joining the developmental ranks in 2017.
Had they swept their younger foes, Marinerong Pilipino would have been only the third team in the league’s history to finish a conference with a perfect record, next to NLEX in 2012 and 2014.
The Skippers entered Wednesday’s game riding an impressive 10-game winning streak.
“Masaya kasi natanggap ko ‘tong award na ‘to. Pero malungkot kasi ‘di namin na-sweep eh,” said Poligrates, who only finished with two points, two rebounds, and two assists in the loss.
For the 31-year-old, it was not an issue of overconfidence, but rather lack of preparation.
Most of his teammates still have commitments to their teams in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. That ended up costing them, since it led to low attendance in their practices.
“‘Di kami buo sa practice eh,” rued Poligrates, who asked to be released by the Cebu Sharks to join Marinerong Pilipino. “Meron kaming bagong play tapos yung ibang player wala. Kaya pagdating sa loob ang gulo.
“Hirap kasi ‘pag nasa loob ‘yung apat lang may alam nung laro tapos yung isa hindi. Tignan mo ‘yung laro namin, ang sama. Dami kasing wala sa practice eh, ‘di kami makumpleto.”
So to address that issue, Poligrates has called on his teammates to shift their focus to Marinerong Pilipino for the meantime so that they can play better — and possibly win it all — in Game Three.
“Nagsabi ako sa kanila kung maari magpaalam sila sa mga mother teams nila sa MPBL para makumpleto kami,” he said.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, kung gusto nating mag-champion, sakripisyo na natin muna. Paalam muna tayo sa mga mother teams natin, kasi kailangan ng preparation eh.”