HIS first game in the conference was also the most important one for Phoenix, so Raymar Jose made sure his presence would be felt on Thursday.
And he did just that, helping the Accelerators capture the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup title after an 87-78 win over Tanduay in do-or-die Game Three at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
Jose had not seen action all conference for Phoenix as he focused on Far Eastern University's buildup for the coming UAAP wars, but got the call in the decider with Alfred Batino unavailable due to a personal commitment.
He made the most of it.
In 17 minutes of action, Jose scored nine points and seven rebounds while also providing the intangibles for a team that badly needed a boost of energy down low against the taller Rhum Masters.
"Kahapon lang (nasabihan). Nasa dorm ako, nakahiga, sinabihan ako na ready lang kasi wala yung isang kasama ko," said Jose.
Although it was just his first match, adjusting wasn't much of an issue for Jose since he played for the same team when it won the Aspirant's Cup crown a few months ago.
"Kasama ko na rin naman sila dati. Parang ganun pa rin yung samahan namin dati," said Jose, who also played alongside Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, and Roger Pogoy in FEU's title-winning UAAP squad.
Phoenix head coach Eric Gonzales was full of praise for his 'magic hugot.'
"Sobrang big factor (ni Raymar). Kita mo naman yung outcome. For the last three years, he has been with the team also," said Gonzales.
Jose also earned the praise of Tolomia and Belo, who joined forces in the fourth period to put away Tanduay for good.
"Sobrang laking bagay samin. Yun talaga kailangan namin sa team namin e, yung aggressiveness. Nadala nya yung energy sa team namin," said newly-minted MVP Tolomia, who finished with 21 points.
Belo said: "Kahit last conference siya yung key (player) namin. Lalo ngayon kasi alam nya tinatakbo namin, matagal namin syang naging teammate. Nagpapasalamat kami sa kanya."