WITH ace Jeron Teng saddled by foul trouble, Flying V turned to its veteran-laden squad for the next man to take charge.
Fortunately for the Thunder, Gab Banal heeded the call.
While Teng struggled to find his rhythm, Banal stepped up to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in Flying V's 107-96 win over Wangs in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Tuesday.
The Couriers made life hard for Teng, holding the former La Salle star to 20 points on a poor 7-of-20 shooting from the field while forcing him to turn the ball over seven times.
But it only bothered the Thunder for the first two quarters as Banal dropped 11 of his total output in the third quarter to spark a 10-0 run and help Flying V seize control for good.
Banal, though, played down his heroics, saying he was only making the most of what the defense was giving him.
"Everyone is collapsing on Jeron. We all know he's a scoring machine and he was passing the ball, nagkataon ako open. Buti nashoo-shoot ko yung mga tira," said Banal shortly after the match at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
"I was just grabbing rebounds, making tip-ins just to help my team win kasi alam namang si Jeron anytime puputok yan."
His defense was just as impressive as he silenced counterpart Robbie Herndon in the second half after he scored 20 in the first 20 minutes of action. Herndon only put up four markers after the break.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help my team win. He scored 20 in the first half, that's Kobe Bryant. Someone has to make that effort to stop him," he said.
None was happier than Flying V coach Eric Altamirano after his team racked up its third straight victory.
"Gab was consistent all throughout the game. He was our spark and he took it upon himself to shut down Herndon in the second half," said Altamirano.