RONJAY Buenafe treasures his Smart Gilas Pilipinas experience so much that he has already applied what he learned with the national basketball team in Dubai to his professional club.
Just a day after coming home from his stint with Gilas in the Gulf, Buenafe joined the Meralco Bolts in practice on Monday morning and was still the last man to leave the court after doing extra work with his shooting.
“Kailangan yun (extra work) eh,” said the six-year PBA veteran, who made 10 straight three-point shots in one stretch during his post-practice routine. “One thing natutunan ko doon (sa Dubai), sinabihan kami lahat na never stop working. Kaya eto, work hard lang palagi.”
The 29-year-old guard, who finished the recent Philippine Cup at No. 4 in the league in three-point conversions with 37 despite playing just 16 games, took home a bunch of lessons from his first stint with the national team, which bowed out in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Invitational Tournament.
“Marami (natutunan) pero ang most na tumatak sa isip ko yung wag ka basta-bastang bibigay. Laban lang ng laban hanggang sa huli,” said the 6-foot-2 Buenafe, who sported a bruised left eye, no thanks to an opponent's hit in Dubai.
Overall, the 6-foot-2 Buenafe felt fulfilled after his Dubai experience.
“Magandang experience. Makalaro iba’t-ibang players ng ibang bansa. Medyo malalakas yung players na malaki. Pero challenge para sa amin.”
He may not be part of the Gilas squad that is currently in Hong Kong, but Buenafe is fine with it as he focuses now on the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup.
“Okay lang kasi may Meralco rin. Hindi rin ako makaka-catch up dito (sa Bolts) if ever makasama ako doon.”
After the Bolts lost in the PH Cup quarterfinals to Alaska, the goal remains the same for Buenafe, who was traded in the offseason from Governors’ Cup titlist Rain or Shine.
“Win as many games as possible, hard work sa practice, tsaka improve every day.”