IN whatever way he can, Gabby Espinas is eager to help San Miguel seal the remaining berth in the PBA Governors Cup Finals.
His reason is personal.
A win by the Beermen in Game Four of their semifinals series against Rain or Shine on Wednesday will guarantee a title showdown with the Alaska Aces in a rematch between the Philippine Cup Finals protagonists.
It will also have Espinas going up against his former ballclub - something the San Miguel reserve doesn't want to miss for the world.
“Hindi (ayaw kong magpaiwan sa barko ng finals), wag, wag. Sana makarating din kami dun (finals). Para first time na finals ko (dito sa San Miguel) sila ang kalaban ko,” said Espinas.
The former Philippine Christian University King Dolphin had a tumultuous final conference with the Aces before he was shipped to GlobalPort last March and eventually joining the Beermen less than a month later.
In a talk with Spin.ph, Espinas did not hide his desire to prove something against his former team.
“Pag former team mo lagi ka namang motivated kasi gusto mo namang magpakita. Sana manalo na kami sa Wednesday para kami ang kalaban nila (Alaska). Sana, sana talaga,” he said.
At San Miguel, Espinas plays mostly as a back-up to either import AZ Reid and June Mar Fajardo, but he is going the extra mile just to ensure a series victory over Rain or Shine.
“Kinakausap ko sila na ‘sana makuha natin yung semis (wrap up), kasi excited akong makalaban yung mga former teammates ko,” said the 33-year old pride of Olongapo City, who is averaging 11.44 minutes a game for the team that picked him fifth overall in the 2006 rookie draft.
He also helps psyche up Reid before games and playfully expressed willingness to act as his masseur just to bring the best out of the import.
“Lagi ko nga siyang (Reid) sinasabihan na sana manalo na kami. Ibigay na namin ang lahat kasi gusto kong mag Finals. Kulang na lang nga masahihin ko pa si AZ at iba kong teammates,” he said with a laugh.
Espinas didn't hide his longing to prove himself against his former team.
“Gigil talaga ako. Kasi gusto kong ma-i-prove sa kanila na kaya ko silang talunin,” said Espinas, who struggled with an injury in his final months with the Aces. “May gusto talaga akong patyunayan.
"Kasi dati nga hindi nila ko nagamit kasi galing ako sa injury, so if ever magka chance na makalaban ko sila sa Finals, mai-po-prove ko sa kanila na kung makakalaro ka ng medyo mahahaba-haba, maipapakita mo yung kakayahan mo.”
Watch video of interview with Espinas: