Inserted back to the starting lineup, underrated big man Bryan Faundo immediately validated the trust given by Meralco coach Norman Black.
The 6-foot-6 Faundo came through with a solid performance that’s been demanded from him as the Bolts staved off elimination with an 86-70 victory on Monday night and dragged the Alaska Aces to a do-or-die match in their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Filling in the role of usual starter Reynel Hugnatan, Faundo, 32, made the most of his 25-minute stint as he finished with a personal series-high of 12 points, making half of his 12 attempts from the field, on top of seven rebounds and an assist, giving the Bolts’ the needed lift as they forced a Game 5 this Wednesday at the Big Dome.
“Nagbibigay ng burst of confidence ko ‘yung pag-start kasi nagbibigay ng tiwala sa akin si coach,” said Faundo. “Sabi lang sa akin ni coach, be decisive ako kung titira ako o ipapasa. Basta decisive lang ako sa gagawin ko.”
With their backs against the wall, Faundo admitted he and the rest of the Bolts have no other choice but to rise to the occasion.
“Must-win na kasi kami. Parang tie-or-die ngayon kaya laban lang kami nang laban kung saan ang pupunta itong series namin. Parang wala ng bukas,” said the undrafted Letran stalwart, who is hoping to finally reach his desired destination since he started playing in the pro ranks in 2009.
“Hanggang semis lang ako. ‘Pag mabibigyan ako ng chance, ito ‘yung first ko na makakaapak sa finals.”
And Faundo knows what they need to do as they face another elimination match in two days’ time.
“Ibigay na lahat kung ano ang kayang ibigay,” he said.
“Mahirap kalaban ang Alaska kasi may experience na sila sa mga ganung laban. Alam na nila kung paano manalo. Pero pipilitin namin. Hindi namin ibibigay ‘yung chance sa kanila na makapunta du’n (finals).” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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