ARVIN Tolentino is taking the trade from Barangay Ginebra to NorthPort in a positive way, even if it meant leaving a team that he supported growing up.
The 26-year-old Tolentino said he never thought that the whirlwind of events that saw him practice with Ginebra in the morning then be informed about the trade after would lead to him playing for the Batang Pier on opening day of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Nakakagulat actually to be honest,” said Tolentino. “Nagulat ako nung sinabi sa akin. Ang bilis ng pangyayari. Monday, nag-practice ako with Ginebra, having fun with my teammates, then after practice, sinabihan ako na tinrade ako sa NorthPort.”
“The next day, I was practicing with NorthPort na. Different environment, ibang teammates, bagong teammates, bagong system, lahat. The next day, naglaro na kami. Parang biglang I was with Ginebra then suddenly, sa NorthPort na.
"[Yet] I understand na it’s part of being a pro. ‘Yun lang ‘yung iniisip,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino played like he has been with NorthPort for a long time as he marked an all-around performance with 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and four blocks, a new career-high.
While there was still an adjustment period, the former Ginebra cager said he also has something to prove to NorthPort management, coaches, and teammates, so he was motivated to perform immediately for his new team.
“Actually, ‘yun ang iniisip ko. Na-trade ako dahil gusto ako nila coach Pido [Jarencio] at NorthPort. I want to prove to them na hindi sila nagkamali. ‘Yun ‘yung mentality na nilalagay ko,” said Tolentino.
“Wala ng time para [sabihin] na, ‘Sayang, I was with Ginebra.’ Wala ng time para malungkot. Katulad ng sabi ko, after one day, laro na agad,” said Tolentino.
At Ginebra, Tolentino was starting to make his mark and even earned a Gilas Pilipinas call, so there was a sense of regret leaving his favorite team since childhood.
“Of course, meron naman [panghihinayang],” said Tolentino, who won two championships with Ginebra. “Coming off a good season and I was really prepared this conference to give my best para mas higitan ko pa ‘yung confidence ko. And then, biglang nalipat. Ang goal ko is higitan ko ang confidence ko with NorthPort.”
“Siyempre nanghihinayang ako kasi Ginebra was my favorite team growing up. Even to be honest, right now, fan pa rin ako ng Ginebra. ‘Yun ‘yung best years ko with my basketball career kasi playing with your favorite team, playing in front of millions of fans, and arguably the best coach in the Philippines ever, and with the company. Sayang. But NorthPort, they really wanted me with the trade,” said Tolentino.
Even as he shifts his focus on NorthPort, Tolentino said he will also miss the legion of fans at Ginebra.
“Ma-mimiss ko ‘yung mga fans especially. The best ‘yung fans ng Ginebra. I want to thank them. Grabe ‘yung support nila sa akin since Day One. Actually, kahit na-trade ako, nababasa ko mga messages nila. Sobrang overwhelming. Thank you sa kanila sa support. Sana hindi sila magsawang sumuporta sa akin.”
On the sentiments of some fans that he should not have been included in the deal, Tolentino said: “Wala akong control sa ganun eh. It’s management's decision. Katulad ng sabi ko, ang iniisip ko, gusto ako ni coach Pido. Gusto ako ng NorthPort. I don’t want to think na ayaw sa akin ng Ginebra.”
“Siyempre, Jamie Malonzo ‘yun, di ba?” said Tolentino.
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