ALEX Cabagnot gladly rewarded a few thousand pesos to some utility staff for completing a relay race under time pressure around the oval that encircled the Acropolis gym after San Miguel Beer practice on Thursday.
That thoughtful gesture showed that the SMB star playmaker still had plenty of blessings to share and thank about after losing the Best Player of the Conference race to teammate Chris Ross on Wednesday night.
“Team bonding lang,” Cabagnot said in a chat with SPIN.ph after fooling around with the team staff. “That’s just what we do all the time. Sharing your blessings with them and having fun. We do that every time.”
Tied with Ross in the statistical points standings after the semifinals, Cabagnot still wound up a distant second place after also taking into account the point value of the votes from the media, players, and the league for the top plum in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But Cabagnot has nothing to complain about.
“I know a lot of people were asking me how I felt about that yesterday, pero there’s so many blessings that’s going on me with right now and blessings that God has given me, my family, with the situation that I’m in with San Miguel and the championship,” the 34-year-old cager said.
“You can’t be down…with the crust of the pie, it’s just a small piece lang talaga,” he added. “You can’t let your selfish side get the better of you. Ganun talaga eh. I’m happy for Chris. He’s one of my closest friends on the team. We work hard together. And even if June Mar (Fajardo) would’ve won it, at least it stayed with San Miguel.”
Ross emerged on top with 1,038 points compared to just 746 by Cabagnot, while Fajardo finished fourth in the race with 530 behind Jayson Castro who tallied 630 points.
“That was just how it worked out,” Cabagnot said. “I think the people have spoken, and it shows naman with the tally sheet.”
Yet it seems it was Cabagnot who played like the BPC on Wednesday night as he led all locals in scoring with 18 points, spiked by three treys, on top of six boards, five assists, and two steals, and only one turnover in 39 minutes in the 102-97 loss in Game Four. Ross, on the other hand, was held to eight points, five boards, four assists, two steals, against four turnovers in almost 39 minutes of play.
“I just want to stay consistent,” Cabagnot said. “Yun lang yung pangako ko sa sarili ko, sa teammates ko, and to my management – hopefully maging consistent lang ako with what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the conference to right now.”
Anyway, there’s still the Finals MVP that he could win if and when he leads the Beermen to the title.
“No, no. Hindi ako aasa dun (sa Finals MVP). I won’t make asa with any accolades,” Cabagnot insisted. “I really would love to win a championship. I want to go back to the few first statements that I’ve made – we haven’t won this in sixteen years and stuff.”
“With regards to Finals MVP or any MVP and to anybody that’s hoping for that, you could only control what you can control and what you could do,” he added. “Sana what I can control can help the team win.”
What he can control is to keep playing at a high level starting in Game Five on Friday night against an unpredictable Texters side in a series that’s heating up and down to a best-of-three.
“I don’t know what to expect, actually, with Talk ‘N Text,” Cabagnot said. “The only thing I can control is I expect us to make adjustments because I know they’re going to throw waves of different situations, so we have to be prepped for that.”
“It comes more of the visualization – like what coach would say and studying certain situations that they would throw and how you would counter it, or what you could throw to them and once they counter, what could you re-counter and stuff,” he added.
Cabagnot agreed that it was definitely a chess match between not just the coaches, but the players as well.
“You have to know your move like twenty moves ahead,” Cabagnot said. “That’s the fun part about the finals. Yung mga finals naman, hindi naman talaga bara-bara yan. The first couple of games, syempre you’re so high in emotion just being in the finals. Pero the middle part of the series, it’s the hard part kasi dun talaga naga-adjust.”
“Dun talaga yung nagpapakita kung sino yung mga hugot na ganun, and what you could pretty much show individually as a player – syempre yung depensa nila sa’yo iba, tapos the next game iba ulit, and hopefully you could kind of sway it in your favor by making them go play you this way, pero meron ka ng counter sa ganun,” he added.
“So it’s definitely like fun,” Cabagnot continued. “But Talk ‘N Text, they’re a really tough team. It’s a good matchup not just the players, but it’s a good matchup for the PBA fans. They could see two tactician coaches, good players on each side, and good imports. It’s fun for the fans.”
It will be more fun for Cabagnot and the rest of the Beermen if they can end their title drought in midseason tournaments.