AFTER playing the hero's role in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Finals, Jhonard Clarito is making his presence felt in the PBA D-League.
The San Juan Knights high-flyer who hit the big baskets against Davao Occidental in the MPBL title decider is still trying to fit into the D-League style of play, but he's already making quite an impact.
"Naga-adjust ako kasi iba yung tawagan dito. Mahirap lalo na yung mga dikdikan na laro. Iba yung D-League. Maga-adjust ka talaga," said the 23-year-old forward out of De Ocampo Memorial College.
Two games in, Clarito is averaging 12.0 points and 10.0 rebounds for the Skippers. More than the numbers, his jolt of energy is also a timely spark as Marinerong Pilipino revived its playoff hopes with a gritty 88-85 overtime win over Metropac-San Beda on Thursday.
Clarito dropped five of his 12 points in overtime as the Skippers improved to an even 4-4 slate, keeping them in the thick of things in the Foundation Group playoff race.
The 6-foot-1 forward knows Marinero's fate is no longer solely in their hands now, since the team not only needs to beat Perpetual on Tuesday but it must also hope that CEU takes down FEU in their May 23 clash.
But regardless of what the future holds, Clarito promises to stay true to himself in his desire to bring the team to the playoffs.
"Kung ano lang yung maitutulong ko, yun lang gagawin ko. Tiwala naman ako sa mga kasama ko, na kaya nilang gawin yung trabaho nila. Gagawin ko rin yung trabaho ko," he said.
And who knows? This PBA D-League stint could serve as his launchpad to the PBA - quite a leap for someone who wasn't even taken in the 2017 PBA D-League Draft.
But that's still too far out in the future that Clarito still has his eyes set on the present.
"Syempre pangarap ng ibang tao ito na makalaro sa D-League. Nagpapasalamat ako na kinuha ako ni coach Yong (Garcia) dito at pinaglaro," he said.