DESPITE being slapped with a hefty P20,000 fine for his hard foul on Cliff Hodge, Gabby Espinas said he won't change his style of play going to Alaska’s knockout match against Barangay Ginebra for a berth in the semifinals of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday.
“Ganun pa rin,” Espinas told Spin.ph, referring to the gung-ho plays he has become known for with the Aces. “Lahat naman kasi ng mga players nagba-banggaan. Wala namang intensyong manakit. Basta laro lang.”
Espinas admitted being given a warning by league commissioner Chito Salud regarding his rough play against the 6-foot-4 Hodge, whom he hit with an elbow to the face simultaneously as he fell on the Meralco forward during a loose ball battle.
The collision took place during the second period of the Alaska-Meralco do-or-die game for last spot in the playoffs on Monday.
But Espinas said there was never an intention on his part to hurt Hodge, saying the physicality was borne out of his desire to get into rebounding position.
“Nag-apologize din ako kay commissioner pero di ko naman intention na saktan siya (Hodge),” said the former NCAA MVP-Rookie of the Year out of Philippine Christian University.
With the Hodge incident behind him, the 6-foot-4 Espinas said he actually looks forward to matching up against either Greg Slaughter, the 6-foot-11 Ginebra rookie center, or the 6-foot-9 high-leaper Japeth Aguilar one last time this conference at the Astrodome.
“Nakaka-excite talaga kasi napakalaki talaga nila. Eh alam mo naman ako, maliit kumpara sa kanila, pero siyempre, matagal na rin naman tayo sa PBA,” said the Olongapo City native, who is averaging career-high numbers of 12.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30.7 minutes this conference.
But he’s hopeful that after taking a day off on Thursday, the Aces will be ready to slug it out one more time with the Kings, aware that a win would catapult them back to the semifinals.