KERBY Raymundo has almost been a forgotten star during his time with Barangay Ginebra.
But thanks to the confidence in him by coach Alfrancis Chua, the 6-foot-6 big man is experiencing a resurgence just in time for the Kings' campaign in the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs.
With Mark Caguioa out and Billy Mamaril yet to fully recover from injury, the many-time All-Star has stepped up with vintage performances in Ginebra's conquest of a twice-to-beat Rain or Shine side in the quarterfinals.
The veteran center out of Letran credits Chua for the career renaissance.
“From the start (of the conference), sinabi sa akin ni coach Al, 'Ready ka lang, gagamitin kita,'” said Raymundo.
Since being traded by B-Meg to Ginebra last season, Raymundo was never the player he was once, averaging just 10 to 12 minutes of play per game as he took the backseat to the team’s more established superstars Mark Caguioa, JayJay Helterbrand, and of late, LA Tenorio.
He got his opportunity when Chua turned to Raymundo to once again assume the scoring role he’s long been accustomed to during his decade-long stay with Purefoods (now San Mig Coffee).
“Nakikita naman ni coach Al `yung extra work ko. Kasi may preparation ako talaga even before the start of the game. May extra shooting ako saka nagwo-workout,” he added.
The 32-year-old Raymundo noted that with import Vernon Macklin a marked man inside, it’s important for him to score not only in the paint but likewise from the perimeter, something he has done so well with Purefoods in the past.
Raymundo has averaged 16 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes of play in the team’s last three games, a huge improvement from his first 11 outings with the Kings in the mid-season conference when he normed just 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 13.5 minutes of play.
“Sabi ni coach, 'Kailangan natin `yung offense mo.' Kailangan may threat sa labas dahil nga na-de-depensahan si Vernon. Ngayon, nakukuha ko na ang rhythm ko. Talagang thank you din kay coach Al dahil sa trust niya sa akin at pagbigay ng playing time,” he said.
Raymundo also made special mention of teammate and backup forward Elmer Espiritu, with whom he regularly plays one-on-one after practice to keep himself sharp, along with Ginebra trainer Bong Basilio, and personal strength and skills trainer on plyometrics, John Aquino.
“Na-appreciate ko talaga sila. They helped me a lot sa pag-improve ko ngayon. Talagang answered prayer ito ni God sa akin,” he added.
While he knows the upcoming semifinal series against Talk ‘N Text won’t be a walk in the park, Raymundo is hopeful his new-found confidence will help the team pull off yet another upset and reach the Finals for the first time in two years.