FROM a rarely used reliever, Jake Pascual has transformed into Alaska's unlikely top scorer in a matter of months.
Making the most out of the opportunity after Vic Manuel was ruled out of the PBA Philippine Cup due to a back injury, Pascual once again led from the front in the Aces' 94-72 win over Columbian on Wednesday night.
The former San Beda standout scored 13 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and blocked two shots for the Aces, who played with only 10 players. It was supposed to be 11, until rookie G-Boy Babilonia got injured in practice.
“Para sa akin, step up lang sa team ‘yun,” Pascual said. “We are down to four bigs. Although second game pa lang namin ‘to, marami pa kaming ginagawang adjustments especially sa mga offensive and defensive schemes.”
Pascual is now leading the team in both points (12.5 a game) and rebounds (11 per outing) through two games with the Aces - not bad at all for a player who played behind Sonny Thoss, Kecin Racal, and Manuel last season.
“I felt like Sonny (Thoss) played his best game in a while,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton of Thoss, who had four points and six rebounds. “I thought Sonny came out, asserted himself, played aggressively, played strong, and was the leader for us.”
“And right behind him, I thought Jake Pascual did (play well) as well. Our bigs really did a nice job,” said Compton.
Pascual said he knows Manuel has left big shoes to fill.
“Aminado naman tayo, kilala natin si Vic Manuel na siya ‘yung number one option natin sa ilalim tapos may outside shooting pa. Tulungan lang kami. ‘Yun ang sabi ni coach, kung sino ‘yung nasa tabi niyo sa bench, ‘yun lang ang titignan niyo kasi ‘yun lang ang makakatulong sa’yo,” Pascual said.
“Nagbibiruan nga kami. Wala ka nang aasahan kundi sarili mo at teammates mo. We take it as a challenge. Coming off the bench pa rin kami, minsan di pa nagagamit, (kailangan) patunayan namin na may ibubuga kami at may itutulong kami sa team."