IT’S like finally getting out of a chokehold for former Barangay Ginebra players who are now at Barako Bull.
That’s basically the case when one transfers from a franchise that’s carrying the hopes and expectations of its legions of fans to a team that basically has nothing to lose.
Two of Barako’s latest acquisitions from Ginebra can attest to that.
“Yun ang pagkakaiba eh, kasi doon (sa Ginebra) medyo pressured nga kasi matagal ng hindi nagcha-champion, so hinahanapan na yung players,” Mac Baracael said. “'Nung pagpunta namin dito, parang gumaan yung pakiramdam ng bawat isa eh.”
“Wala nang pressure eh, so parang naglalaro ka na lang ng normal every game,” added the veteran forward, who was acquired in a late offseason trade.
Rodney Brondial, who has yet to practice with the Energy after moving to his new team just last Monday, can already feel how light the mood is during their 93-85 win over Mahindra on Tuesday.
“Siguro kasi itong Barako, parang 'yung pressure, hindi masyadong (nararamdaman), sobrang loose lang eh, like pag pasok ko kanina (sa dugout), kulitan kaagad, parang hindi ako na out of place,” the young big man said. “Relax na relax tapos enjoy.”
While admitting he will miss the privilege to be part of the league’s most popular team, Brondial is looking forward to his stint with the Energy where he believes he can blossom after being the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft.
“Syempre nalungkot. Hindi ko rin talaga inaasahan, sobrang na-surprise ako sa pag lipat, pero at the same time, blessing in disguise na rin kasi dito sa team na ito, may chance ako ma-prove yung laro ko talaga,” the 6-foot-4 slotman said.
“Alam naman natin sa Ginebra, medyo pigil kasi syempre kumpleto, may mga bigs na. Siguro dito, mapo-prove ko 'yung sarili ko,” added Brondial, who turns 25 on Friday.
Willy Wilson, another role player at Ginebra, already knows the feeling as he has been enjoying a bigger responsibility at Barako.
“Everybody has the green light to take shots where you can take them, so when I’m in my area to score, I just take advantage of the opportunity,” said the undersized forward, who is averaging career-highs of 12.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 35.8 minutes in his first five games.
And for a team of 'castoffs,' the Energy have been performing above expectations and above .500 with a 3-2 win-loss card.
“Very surprising (yung start namin) kasi makikita mo yung team namin, hindi ganun kalakas pero yung chemistry namin nandun at nagtutulungan kami,” said Baracael, who had nine points, five boards, and one assist in 17 minutes against the Enforcers.
Wilson even said his middle-of-the-pack team could’ve been up there with the leaders if not only for the bad breaks in the endgame in their two losses.
“We could easily be 4-0 right now,” Wilson said after the team’s 108-106 win over Meralco last Sunday.