MARK Caguioa, LA Tenorio, and Jayjay Helterbrand have been at the forefront of Ginebra's resurgence in the PBA Philippine Cup, earning their share of the praise - and deservedly so.
But before everyone forgets, Siot Tanquingcen was quick to point out that the Kings' two recent wins would not have been possible without Rudy Hatfield.
“He’s always been self-motivated naman eh. Going through these trials, siyempre he wants to help the team as much as he could,” the Barangay Ginebra coach said after the Kings played arguably their finest game of the season in a 104-101 victory over league-leader Talk 'N Text on Sunday night.
Through the entire offseason and for the first seven games of the season, the 'H-Bomb' has become largely a forgotten man in the Ginebra lineup as most of the attention had been focused on the new, exciting additions to the Kings' roster like rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen, and Tenorio.
But when Ginebra found itself in a perplexing skid that saw it lose five games in a row, who else would again step up to save the day but Hatfield.
Hatfield, of course, is a throwback to the Ginebra days of old - a 6-3 bruiser who, like Dante Gonzalgo, Chito Loyzaga, and Rudy Distrito before him, never gave up on any loose ball, never let a rebound get away without a fight, and never backed down from any fight.
Pulled out of the bench by a desperate Tanquingcen on Friday in a see-sawing game against newcomer Globalport, the banger made an immediate impact with his hustle and rebound inside the paint. But it was in the match against the Texters two days later where Hatfield left an indelible imprint.
The Detroit-born Hatfield finished with a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds, while adding four assists and one block in 28 minutes of non-stop hustle on the floor.
He plucked down seven offensive rebounds, including one inside the final minute that led to Helterbrand’s daredevil drive off Talk ‘N Text’s Larry Fonacier that gave the Gin Kings a 103-96 cushion.
“He brought the energy and was going for every rebound which is the Hatfield of old,” Tanquingcen said later.
Well, Tanquingcen better pray his Fil-American forward, who has now become his most dependable frontliner, still has a lot more games like that left in that 35-year-old body if he hopes to deliver a long-overdue championship to the Ginebra faithful.