MAHINDRA hopes to have found its answer to 'Extra Rice Incorporated.'
While Rain or Shine has Beau Belga and JR Quiñahan, the Enforcers have at least one stocky big man in Jay-R Taganas, who they are contemplating on signing to a contract for the coming PBA season.
Seeing limited action since he was left undrafted in 2010, Taganas has been on a comeback trail in a bid to fulfill his PBA dream, trying out for the Enforcers since last month and making a solid impression in practice.
“Our management likes him because of yung mga little things na nagagawa niya, like sa depensa, yung hustle, rebounding,” Enforcers coach Chito Victolero said of the undersized yet hardworking former San Beda stalwart.
“Ang mahirap lang dito, medyo sobra kami sa position niya,” he was quick to add, saying Mahindra's frontline is bound to get more crowded once rookie big man Bradwyn Guinto arrives from San Sebastian.
“Pero positive na problema 'yun. Mas maganda na 'yun kesa wala kaming player.”
Taganas had been content with his field job at Maynilad where he worked for almost five years. But his basketball dream was reignited by a chance to play for the company in the MVP Olympics, an inter-company tournament featuring firms under the Manny V. Pangilinan group.
“Hindi ko na inisip maglaro sa PBA,” Taganas said in a chat with Spin.ph. “Kasi trabaho na tsaka wala na rin ako sa kondisyon ‘nun. Iniisip ko na lang puro trabaho.”
He moved a step closer to his PBA dream after earning a spot in AMA’s D-League team handled by Mark Herrera, also his coach at his corporate team.
“Naisip ko na baka ito na ulit yung pagkakataon na matupad yung pangarap, so nagpursigi ako.”
The 6-foot-3 slotman, fondly known as 'Baby Shaq,' immediately stood tall for the Titans, where failing to reach a double-double was an anomaly, highlighting his stint by setting the D-League rebounding record of 39 boards in one game.
His impressive showing drew the attention of the Enforcers, who have signed Taganas as a practice player.
Taganas, who quit his day job last July, has been working hard to reach his dream — and become the Enforcers’ version of the Extra Rice tandem.
“Pwede rin (panapat sa Extra Rice Inc.),” smiled the burly big man, who turned 28 last September 1. “Gagawin ko naman kaya kong gawin sa court para mapakita na kaya ko maglaro sa PBA.”
Mahindra veteran Mark Yee can attest to Taganas being a fellow enforcer on the court.
“Hindi lang siya marunong sa depensa,” he said. “May maaasahan ka rin sa opensa. Masipag. Nakakapagtaka na ngayon lang nakapasok 'yung bata sa PBA.”
“Kung sila (Belga, Quiñahan) Extra Rice, siya extra suman,” Yee added.