GINEBRA coach Tim Cone made another timely call-up from his bench that made a difference in the team’s 104-97 win over GlobalPort in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Sunday night.
Jervy Cruz continued to make a solid contribution, but Cone also drew quality minutes from Aljon Mariano, who chipped in 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, and one assist without committing a turnover in 17 minutes off the bench.
The third-year wingman is simply maximizing the extra minutes up for grabs that are usually allotted for Justin Brownlee in import-spiced conferences.
“Syempre last two conferences may import kami so medyo, yung minutes ko, downgrade talaga,” Mariano said. “Ngayon, before mag-start yung conference, sinabi sa akin ni coach Tim na I’ll get my opportunities this conference. I seized my moments lang tapos I did my role lang sa team.”
“Yung role ko na give energy, hustle and defense talaga. ‘Yung score ko, dumadating na lang ‘yun,” he added.
Mariano’s points came at crucial junctures as scored a layup that gave the Gin Kings a 100-97 lead with a little less than two minutes left in the game.
Together with Paolo Taha and Cruz, Mariano led the bench mob that continued to step up in the absence of injured Joe Devance, as well as Sol Mercado, and Art dela Cruz.
“Lagi namang sinasabi sa amin ni coach Tim na kapag may nawala, next man up,” Mariano said. “I’ve been always seizing the next-man-up [role], parang yun yung role ko talaga sa team so sabi ko nga kanina, I seized my moments lang and take advantage of the opportunities given to me to help the team and give wins sa amin.”
“(But) I don’t expect anything lang, I expect to give my best effort lang and hardwork lang,” he added.