HYRAM Bagatsing looked every inch a star when he had his PBA career-game on Wednesday night, shooting the lights out at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in KIA Motors’ shocking 106-103 win over Talk ‘N Text in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Unknown to many, the shooting guard out of De La Salle was almost close to retiring from the game.
“Before this (stint with KIA), I was playing pickup games with him (playing-coach Manny Pacquiao). I really didn’t think I’m gonna play basketball anymore. But this came up and they (Carnival) gave me an opportunity to try out and work my way,” recalled Bagatsing.
Buried deep in KIA Motors’ guard rotation, Bagatsing found a way to shine when he provided the spark off the bench against the Tropang Texters on the way to registering a league career-high 21 points.
His made six of seven three-pointers to help the Carnival complete a fightback from 17-points down.
Prior to his breakthrough PBA game, Bagatsing’s only claim to fame following his collegiate stint with the Green Archers was winning a D-League championship with Blackwater in 2013.
After he went over the D-League age limit of 28 last year, Bagatsing was left without a team and spent most of his time just playing pickup games with Pacquiao.
That led to the break with KIA.
He repaid the trust of KIA by making one-third of KIA’s franchise-record 18 three-pointers, most of them coming from kickout passes by import PJ Ramos who was constantly double-teamed.
Before his inspiring showing against Talk ‘N Text, Bagatsing averaged 1.0 point and 0.5 rebound in just seven minutes of action in two games this conference.
“It feels really good right now. I’m just happy to be part of the team,” said the KIA shooting guard, who went undrafted in the 2010 PBA rookie draft.
“We have a good import in PJ (Ramos), who opens things up for us.”
Bagatsing likewise expressed his gratitude to Pacquiao for believing in him and giving him the opportunity for a career reboot after playing just seven uneventful games for Shopinas during the 2011-12 PBA season.
“I think it’s more of management and the coaching staff trusting and believing in me,” he said. “And with Coach Manny, seeing him on the sidelines, it motivates the whole team because he’s a morale booster.
“He’s a legend in what he has accomplished so far, so that’s a good motivation to play harder, just seeing him there.”
The Carnival have two days to prepare before going up against fellow expansion team Blackwater Elite on Saturday at the San Juan Arena.