GAB Banal has witnessed triple-double performances before, from Jeron Teng thrice back with Flying V to Matt Salem this conference.
Now, it was his turn on the spotlight.
Banal became only the seventh player to record the rare feat, joining the exclusive club with his statline of 24 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists in Go for Gold’s 103-75 rout of Marinerong Pilipino-TIP on Thursday in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals.
But the former GlobalPort forward said that churning those numbers was the least of his concerns, keeping his focus on the plays the Scratchers are running in the game.
“Actually, hindi ko namalayan. Credit to my teammates cause they're making my passes. It's not just my effort but it's their effort also,” he said.
It also helped that Banal badly wanted to make up for his pedestrian showing in Game 1, where he only had four points, five rebounds, and four assists in 25 minutes of play in Go for Gold’s 96-87 win two days prior.
“I played bad last game and I’m trying to recover,” he said. “I want a change of mindset, being a mature player to know that it's part of the game. You have to recover quickly and focus on the next play, so I guess I showed that. I wasn't after that triple-double. All I'm after for is the win.”
And win, they did.
But there’s more to that than just the victory as Go for Gold booked the first ticket to this conference’s Finals, which will be a best-of-five affair.
Banal has been the shining light for the powerhouse Scratchers side, making it no surprise that he’s the pacesetter for this conference’s MVP race. Though glad with the prospects of winning the plum, he knows that the grander goal will always be winning it all.
“Sobrang laking bagay nung MVP kasi it could be my first individual award here in the D-League,” he said. “But then again, for me what's more important is winning the chip. I haven't won that here in the D-League and that's all we're after. That's my main goal right now, to win the championship for the Go for Gold Scratchers.”
And the 27-year-old Banal is coming in confident, knowing that the trials and tribulations his side went through only made Go for Gold stronger for the bigger wars ahead.
“We play incredible basketball, we move the ball, and that's how basketball works. That's just complete team effort and credit to the guys, credit to the coaching staff. But we know we still need consistency. I try to be consistent in everything and give my 100-percent for Go for Gold every game,” he said.
Banal hopes that luck would also smile on the Scratchers, citing the trend in the past with the success achieved by Marinerong Pilipino’s semifinal foes.
“I think Marinero helped us to build our character because they're a strong team. Their Fil-Ams are PBA candidates, but then, we beat them so I think it will help us win the championship,” he said with a grin. “When Cignal beat Marinero, Cignal won the championship. When (Zark’s Burger) Lyceum beat Marinero, Lyceum won the championship. So now that we beat them, we hope to win this championship, too.”