RONJAY Buenafe admitted negative remarks on social networking sites over his inclusion in the Smart Gilas 2.0 team bound for the 24th Dubai International Basketball Tournament has pained him, but the Meralco Bolts forward has vowed to prove his critics wrong.
With only a few professional players making themselves available to the national team's practices over the Christmas holidays, national coach Chot Reyes has drafted Buenafe, Meralco teammate Jay-R Reyes, and Air21's Nino Canaleta to bolster the team made up mostly of college stars for the January 10-19 tournament.
Some fans, though, had questioned Reyes' selections, with one posting on Twitter: "“Smart Gilas pa ba tawag sa team na yan? @snowbadua KG?RONJAY?JR REYES??? #worstchoices"
Buenafe said he has read some of the comments.
“Oo, nasaktan din talaga ako. Mga kababayan pa naman natin ang nag-da-down sa amin tapos Pasko ko pa nga nabasa,” said Buenafe, the underrated former Emilio Aguinaldo College star who has blossomed into one of the pro league's top gunners in stints with Rain or Shine and Meralco.
The Bolts gunner, however, said the bashing has only bolstered his desire to do well in the Dubai tournament and prove the critics wrong.
“Siguro motibasyon na lang namin yun na mas ibigay pa namin ang lahat. Kahit hindi kami ang first choice, ipapakita namin ang puso na lumaro para sa bansa," he told Spin.ph.
“Gusto rin namin ipakita na hindi lang elite players ang pwedeng magpakita ng maganda para sa bansa.” Buenafe added.
Reyes was also quick to defend his draftees, who he said sacrificed a lot for the team after his original choices, among them Petron stars Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo, snubbed the invitation to join the squad.
On the other hand, Gilas 2.0 mainstays Gary David (ankle) and L.A. Tenorio (elbow) have both begged off from the Dubai tournament to rest nagging injuries.
"The NERVE of all those questioning d Dubai GILAS lineup. U dnt understand what ur talking about. These guys sacrificed a lot. Kayo?" Reyes posted on his Twitter account @coachchot.