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Rookie Oftana earns praise from PBA rivals, Captain Kief after career game

Calvin Oftana showed what he was capable of when he put up a brave stand during NLEX’s 2021 PBA Honda Philippine Cup elimination round game against Meralco, Wednesday afternoon. 

Yes, the third overall pick in the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft finally proved his worth in a time when the Road Warriors badly needed a win.

NLEX, a team that was eyeing to go up the rankings, was down by as much as 20 points in the third canto and 11 points with four minutes left in the game.

That’s when the NCAA Season 95 Most Valuable Player decided to take matters into his own hands.

With 1:40 left in the game and the Road Warriors down by nine, Oftana fired a triple. This was followed by a couple more treys that sliced the lead down to two, 101-103 with a couple of seconds left.

However, time was not on the side of the Road Warriors as Raymond Almazan made his first free throw while intentionally missing the second as time expired.

Still, Oftana had himself a game as he dropped a career-high 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field, 8-of-11 from downtown along with three rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and a block.

Meralco’s Chris Newsome, who was watching from the lockerroom, was in awe of Oftana’s performance.

Oftana’s eight threes was a league record for rookies as the previous-high was seven done by Allan Caidic during Great Taste’s 135-134 loss to Tanduay back in Game Two of the Open Conference Finals on June 16, 1987.

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It earned the nod of a couple of league veterans in Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger.

Despite the loss, NLEX is still qualified for the next round as the seventh seed at the very least. And Road Warriors skipper Kiefer Ravena knows that this is just the beginning for the San Beda product.

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