THE last time JC Intal suffered a knee injury, he rushed his comeback with San Mig Coffee that he ended regretting the decision.
Now Intal makes sure he won't make the same mistake again.
“Actually, I came back early (after the injury), which nag-backfire sa akin,” said the former Ateneo star of his injury-plagued final months with San Mig. "Kasi after every game, nag-se-swell yung knee ko."
Intal never became fully healthy with San Mig in the months leading up to the multi-team trade that brought him to Barako Bull. He played in just 13 games last season, averaging 3.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 12.2 minutes of play while his knee tightened and swelled after every game.
With Barako Bull, Intal made sure his knee was completely healthy before plunging back into action. "Now, I make sure my knees are strong. Ayokong pilitin pag may masakit talaga,” Intal told Spin.ph.
Under Barako Bull consultant Rajko Toroman, Intal said he has been working hard to strengthen his knee while at the same time sharpening his perimeter shooting, something which the Serbian mentor expects from him under his European-style motion offense.
“Slowly I’m getting the system. I’m also getting my legs back,” he said. “Sa system ni coach Rajko, you have to be focused saka ang mindset mo lagi is ready to shoot. Ayaw niya naghe-hesitate so coming to the game, pag open, tira lang,” Intal said.
Shifting from Tim Cone's triangle offense to the motion offense of Barako Bull is another challenge which Intal hopes to pass.
“Sa triangle kasi, yung movement niya kailangan maging patient ka,” he said. “Dito (sa motion offense), kapag feel mo, tira ka lang. Iyung system kasi ni coach may mga back picks for shooters."
The results have been encouraging so far.
In two games back from injury, Intal averages 9.5 points and two rebounds. He scored 16 points to help Barako Bull pull off a come-from-behind 91-86 win over Air21 on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Pero ang daming plays ni coach Rajko. May mga times na nakakalito lang talaga. This is just my second (game) with the team, so hopefully, ma-master ko din,” said the 29-year-old forward.