ALASKA just got another weapon in its bid to stop San Miguel behemoth June Mar Fajardo.
Hardworking wingman Gabby Espinas told Spin.ph he is set to return to action on Friday in time for Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, which the Aces lead, 1-0, following a thrilling 88-82 overtime win on Wednesday night.
“Lalaro na ako next game. Pwede na ako.Excited na ako,” Espinas, who has been sidelined since August after suffering a fracture in his right ankle that required surgery, said as he relayed the good news to Spin.ph.
Until he sustained the injury during the Governors’ cup semifinals which the Aces lost to Rain or Shine, Espinas was one of the most consistent big men of Alaska, complementing Alaska bangers Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel.
The injury of Espinas forced the Aces to trade for former MVP Eric Menk, who has since revived his game with the Uytengsu organization.
Asked if he is not worried about disrupting the flow of the team with his return, Espinas shook his head.
“Hindi naman. Kasi sa depensa lang muna ako tutulong, kasi may mga ilang game na sinasabi sa akin ng coaching staff na hinahanap raw nila ko pag kulang sa ilalim,” he said.
“Sana itapat rin ako sa depensa kay June Mar (Fajardo) para makatulong rin ako. Alam ko hirap din mga kakampi ko sa kanya,” said Espinas, who has been activated since the start of the playoffs in lieu of injured veteran Paolo Bugia but has yet to play in a game.
“Pero kahit sino (ang ipabantay) sa akin, Okay lang. Basta makakatulong sa depensa,” he added.
Espinas played a crucial role in Alaska’s conquest of the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup where he averaged 7.46 points and 4.04 rebounds, providing much-needed quality minutes in a shallow Alaska frontline.
And now that the Aces are faced with the daunting task of stopping Fajardo, the re-activation of Espinas came as no surprise.
Fajardo finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in Game One.
“It’s so hard to stop him. (Tonight we did everything) but he still had a monster game, double-double. And he did a big job in the middle,” said Alaska star center Sonny Thoss of Fajardo.