When he’s on-target, Roger Pogoy can make a big difference for Phoenix Petroleum.
Such was the case on Thursday afternoon when the 6-foot-2 Pogoy sizzled with 18 points on an efficient 6-of-12 shooting from the field as the Accelerators topped the CafeFrance Bakers 82-78 in Game 1 of their best-of-5 finals series for the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Despite coming off the bench, Pogoy did what is expected of him by Phoenix Petroleum coach Eric Gonzales, helping stretch the defense with his outside sniping while trying his best to slow down CafeFrance’s top wingmen, led by Samboy De Leon.
“He’s a veteran. Malaking bagay siya kasi nakaka-match-up kami sa 3-spot. Natutulungan rin niya sila Ed para hindi malunod, defensively. Offensively, alam mo naman na mayroon (tira sa labas) ‘yung tao. Mahirap iwanan kaya lumuluwag ‘yung floor,” said Gonzales.
Although he didn’t suit up in their nine-point loss to the Bakers in their lone meeting in the elimination round as he was nursing a hamstring injury, Pogoy was just glad he was able to contribute this time for the Accelerators.
“Siguro swerte lang kasi ‘di ko nga akalain ‘yung mga step-back ko pumapasok,” said the pride of Cebu, who also played a key role in Far Eastern U’s title run in the UAAP men’s cage tourney last year.
Pogoy’s last points came off a completed three-point play against CafeFrance forward Joseph Manlangit, stretching Phoenix’s lead to 18 at 76-58 with more than four minutes to play, but the Accelerators were still made to sweat by the Bakers in a tense finish.
“Alam naman namin na malayo pa ‘yung hahabulin nila kaya sabi ko sa mga teammates ko, ‘Relax lang.’ Sabi rin ng mga coaches namin na ‘di kayang habulin ‘yung lamang,” said Pogoy, adding he and his fellow Accelerators still have no reason to be complacent, aware the Bakers are out to come back stronger in Game 2 on Tuesday.
“Mahaba pa ‘yung series,” stressed Pogoy. “Hindi pa namin masasabi na sa amin na talaga kasi kailangan pa ng dalawang panalo. Dapat kung mag-a-adjust sila, mag-adjust rin kami.”
If there’s one thing the Accelerators need to sustain, according to Pogoy, is their collective desire to play defense.
“Maganda lang talaga ‘yung depensa at effort naming magkakasama,” he said.
“Every game naman, palaging sinasabi ni coach na give your 100 percent, either bad game or good game, basta i-give mo ‘yung 100 percent mo,” Pogoy said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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