WHERE would you want to be? In a champion team where you get to play limited minutes, or in a team which has never won a title but where you get to be the top dog?
Every professional cager definitely wants to have the best of both worlds — in a championship team where you are the top dog. But oftentimes you can’t have everything, right?
So with a championship already under his belt, it came as no surprise that when Ronjay Buenafe was traded by Rain or Shine to Meralco in the offseason to give way to celebrated rookie Chris Tiu, he welcomed it with open arms.
The gunner was right where he wanted to be.
“Napaganda rin lipat ko rito … blessing in disguise,” the former Emilio Aguinaldo College star said after the Bolts’ 99-86 win over Barako Bull on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Nakakalaro ako ng matagal. Nagagawa ko rin kung anong gusto ko, which is nagagawa ko rin naman dati sa Rain or Shine kaya lang limited minutes ako. Unlike dito, dalawa lang kami ni Macmac (Cardona) sa position.”
Buenafe said he has no hard feelings after reigning Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine dealt him away.
“Wala, as in zero, kasi sila nagbigay sa akin ng opportunity na makapaglaro rin ng maganda. Inalagaan naman ako doon. Walang naging problema. Nagkataon lang talaga na siksikan kami sa position,” the 29-year-old said.
With the way Buenafe is playing right now, the Painters’ loss is definitely the Bolts’ gain.
Compared to the last Governors’ Cup where he averaged just 6.2 points in 17.8 minutes per game, Buenafe’s numbers have considerably gone up in his stay with the Bolts.
In six games in the Philippine Cup, Buenafe has normed 16.7 points and a whopping 3.5 three-point conversions an outing at an average of 28.2 minutes per game.
So far, his best game in a Meralco uniform was against GlobalPort last October 17. Although it ended in a 104-105 loss, Buenafe was able to register 30 points, including seven triples, three rebounds, and one steal in 35 minutes.
Buenafe is also the first to concede that the championship experience he gained with the Painters will be valuable as he continues to play a bigger role for the Bolts.
“Gusto ko lang mag-thank you sa kanila (Rain or Shine). Yung chemistry kasi namin before, hindi matatawaran yun eh. Mahal ko rin yung team na yun.”
But knowing it will be a harder climb to the title, Bunafe has meager expectations in his first season for Meralco.
“Win as many games as possible muna. One game at a time lang kami.”