Gary David arrived at the Smart Araneta Coliseum four hours before his current team, San Miguel Beermen are scheduled to meet his former team, Meralco Bolts.
David casually walked into the Big Dome and appeared relax not minding the big game ahead of him. He was the second Beermen to arrive next to his fellow reserve Gabby Espinas.
“Lagi naman talaga kaming maaga ni Gabby. Pero siyempre kasama na rin ‘yun (pinaghahandaan ko talaga ang game na ‘to), David told FOX Sports shortly upon his arrival.
David, a 4-time scoring champion in the PBA, has only scored in double figures for the Beermen only once since he joined the defending Governors Cup champion late last conference. The 38-year old wingman is averaging 4.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13 minutes per game being Marcio Lassiter’s reliever.
Not long ago, David was the hottest shooter in the league, reaching the peak of his career with Powerade in 2012 when he averaged a career-best 25.8 points per game while leading the Tigers to a Finals appearance. That explosive season eventually led to a call-up with the national team where he became part of the Gilas squad that went to the FIBA World Cup in Spain in 2014.
But his career started to go down afterwards until he fell out of grace at Meralco, his team for the last 3 seasons after a short stop at GlobalPort since Powerade’s foldup in 2013.
Earlier this year, David was supplanted from Meralco’s starting unit and was replaced by Chris Newsome, who is having an awesome rookie season.
The frustration grew and reached a boiling point for the 5-time All Star on March 11 this year during Meralco’s 104-99 loss to sister team NLEX. The former Lyceum Pirate was suspended shortly thereafter for what Meralco management felt was insubordination on his part for ‘faking an injury’.
It was a tumultuous ending for David’s tenure with the Bolts as he was relegated to the unrestricted free agent list following his suspension.
But for David, that’s already water under the bridge.
“Wala na ‘yun sa akin. Wala na ‘yung hinanakit ko. Nung lumipat na ako ng San Miguel, nag-text pa nga ako kay coach Norman (Black) at nag-thank you. Nag-reply naman siya. Kumbaga, iba na ngayon pero siyempre iba pa rin ang pakiramdam kapag makakatapat mo ang former team mo,” David said.
While he’s no longer as explosive as before given the limited minutes and the load of talent at San Miguel, David can’t hide his excitement to show up against his former team.
“Siyempre hindi mawawala ‘yung gigil. Basta kung gamitin ako, ibubuhos ko lahat. Basta manalo lang kami, ‘yun ang mahalaga sa akin ngayon,” said David.
So far, his best game in a San Miguel uniform was a 13-point performance in their 94-93 win, ironically, against NLEX last month. David knows that he still has some big games left in his tank. And he’s hoping one of them will happen tonight.
“Tingnan na lang natin (kung magliliyab ang aking mga kamay),” David said. – By Alder Almo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo