Roi Sumang savored the moment before Nueva Ecija took on San Juan in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
With a packed crowd waiting to see the blockbuster clash, Sumang relished it.
After all, the six-year veteran did not expect that he would be back playing at the state-of-the-art venue once more after being excluded by NLEX from even joining the team.
And under the bright lights, Sumang delivered.
With the Rice Vanguards clinging to an 84-81 lead, Sumang got the ball and was matched up with Rhenz Abando, who had a six-inch advantage on him.
Sumang drove to the free-throw line before stepping back to lose Abando. He then swooshed a dagger trey that silenced the Knights.
“Roi made a brilliant play,” said Nueva Ecija head coach Carlo Tan after their 88-85 win that sealed leadership for Pool A. “We wanted Roi to have the ball and from there, From there, he went Roi’s way.
“He is a talented guy and we pay the big bucks for his ability.”
“Sa akin lang, thank you sa mga kakampi ko at coaches namin,” said Sumang, who had 13 points in the game. “Maganda yung tinatakbo namin talaga at sana magtuloy-tuloy sa next games namin.
“Sabi nga namin ni Mike [Mabulac], gusto talaga namin mag-champion. Yun yung goal namin. Sana makuha talaga namin yung championship ngayon,” he continued as his voice started to crack.
“Naiiyak ako. Siguro, gusto ko lang talagang maglaro pa. Gusto ko lang maglaro.”
A championship is something that has eluded Sumang since he was in University of the East.
But win or lose, Sumang is just glad to have found a new family in Nueva Ecija and to be just playing the game that he loves.