ALEX Cabagnot delivered for San Miguel in the opener of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals without the benefit of practice and court time before Sunday’s game.
Coming off a knee injury that kept him out of the bubble for seven games, Cabagnot entered the PBA semi-bubble on Saturday night and therefore missed the Beermen’s preparation for the Batang Pier game.
The veteran guard scored 20 points in his debut in the PBA Philippine Cup restart at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, including the game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds left to seal an 88-87 win.
Cabagnot thanked SMB coach Leo Austria for the trust to give him so much minutes and give him the final play of the Beermen that eventually led to the game-winner.
“I want to give thanks to coach Leo,” said Cabagnot. “I just got in last night. He could easily not play me today because of what’s going on, haven’t practiced, but he gave me the trust and he left me out there.”
“To my teammates, siyempre they didn’t mind me playing this much minutes. Thank you to them,” he added.
Austria's unwavering trust
Cabagnot said he, too, had doubts entering his debut in the PBA semi-bubble. But he was quick to settle down, thanks to the unwavering faith shown by Austria.
“Obviously, I had apprehensions because hindi pa ako nakaka-practice with coach Leo, ‘yung mga adjustments niya, ‘yung mga drills niya," he said. "In true fashion, like a great coach, he just gave me full confidence. My apprehension went away and I started having fun."
Austria said he never doubted Cabagnot would do well, because of his knowledge of the system. He also had no doubt Cabagnot would come in in the best of shape.
“I always trust my players once they show that they are in shape. ‘Yun ang nangyari. He told me that hindi siya nagpabaya," said the San Miguel coach. "Alam ko na siya. Alam ko ‘yung pagbalik niya, he will be in shape."
Austria said the morning after Cabagnot’s arrival and negative swab test, he headed to the viewing room to study NorthPort games alongside the assistant coaches.
“He is very professional," Austria said. "Once he gets to the court, no more adjustments needed dahil for the past five years, alam niya ‘yung tinatakbo ng sistema."
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