TRUST a veteran to step up when his team needs it most.
Dabawenyo Sunday Salvacion epitomized the time-tested adage anew when he capped a fiery performance with the game-winner that stirred Meralco back to life in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Utilized for the first time in the conference last Sunday the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period Sept. 18 to 24 did not disappoint with his 20 points highlighted by the buzzer-beating triple that spelled the 90-89 thriller over GlobalPort.
“Always a blessing to have a warrior like Sunday,” said Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio of the 34-year-old.
“Buried deep and not part of our usual rotation he exhibited tremendous determination and a positive attitude. He heeded the call and carried us on his shoulders.”
There are some circumstances that make the feat more noteworthy, added the tactician. “I always knew that Sunday could hit the three, but what made the feat more exceptional was not only because it was a game-winning three it was more so because of where he came from,” said Gregorio.
“He was languishing at the far end of our bench in our first four games but it did not discourage him at all. Instead, he took it like a grizzled veteran who did not let the opportunity slip away.
“A good lesson in life, that when your number is called always be in the moment.”
Salvacion said he was merely doing what was expected of him.
“Ganu’n lang naman tayo palagi, na kapag tinawag handang mag-deliver kung ano kaya,” said the forward-guard tabbed at 11th overall by Barangay Ginebra in the 2003 draft before making stops in San Miguel Beer and Barako Bull before landing at Meralco prior to the season.
As Gregorio himself admitted, Salvacion was inserted into the game chiefly to try and stifle Batang Pier chief gunner Gary David.
Salvacion, a former Rizal Memorial Colleges Bullpup who dominated the Gaisano Cup tournaments in Davao, succeeded defensively only in the last four minutes, when he finally stopped David’s scoring at 27. Then he returned the favor on the other end by scoring eight of Meralco’s last 13 points that led them back from a 77-87 deficit.
In all, Salvacion went 7-of-9 from the field, including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc.
As Salvacion himself related it was his first game-winner since 2008 while he was still donning a Gin King uniform in a match against Alaska. That one, though, was a simple straightaway, unlike the shot he made a little to the left.
“Akala ko nga nu’ng binitiwan ko hindi papasok,” said the former NCAA MVP. “Pero nu’ng makita ko ang arko, sabi ko okey siya.”
The win snapped the Bolts out of a three-game slide and Gregorio said Salvacion’s latest performance opened his eyes to one fact.
“A great lesson for me, that Sunday should be part of our rotation,” he stated.(pr)