EMBONS Bonleon proved to himself that his decision to leave University of Santo Tomas was worth it when he put on a debut to remember in the PBA D-League.
The former Growling Tiger exploded for 31 points to go with 12 rebounds in a losing effort for AMA Online Education, which bowed to Racal Motors, 100-118, in its Foundation Cup opener.
“Sulit naman,” said Bonleon, when asked if the decision to skip playing for UST in the coming UAAP season was worth it. “Na-redeem ko sarili ko.”
Bonleon was at the center of controversy recently after he bared in an interview the reasons behind leaving UST, claiming that he was not able to get enough playing time because there is a ‘pay-for-play’ system under head coach Boy Sablan.
Sablan refused to comment on Bonleon’s statements, saying that eventually, the truth will come out.
Bonleon said he didn't go to the match with an intent to redeem himself, but to just play.
“Gusto ko lang makabalik sa court after ilang months galing sa injury. Gusto ko lang makalaro ng maayos para mabalik ‘yung kumpiyansa kasi alam mo naman ‘yung nangyari,” said Bonleon.
Bonleon said he is beginning to get his confidence back under AMA head coach Mark Herrera, who encouraged him to take command and play like an import.
“Taas ng binibigay na kumpiyansa ni coach. Pagdating dito, para kaming import. Tinatakot nga kami lagi na import kayo ah, kung hindi (maayos laro niyo), papalitan kayo sa next game. Obligado talaga,” said Bonleon.
Despite his 31-point performance, Bonleon said he still has a lot of work to do as he works his way back to game shape.
“Konti pang papayat. Sabi ng coach ko, fat ako,” said Bonleon, referring to statements made by a member of the UST coaching staff that he was unable to get enough playing time with the Tigers due to his weight issues.
“One month pa lang ako, nagfa-fasting ako. Intermitent fasting. Hindi ako kakain ng 16 hours. Medyo pumayat nga daw ako. Hindi ako nagfo-focus sa weight loss, sa fat loss kasi kapag nagbaba ako ng timbang, hindi ako kakain, (mahihirapan ako) sa big man. Kailangan lean lang,” said Bonleon, who added he currently weighs 215 pounds.