BY sheer coincidence or design, Jay-R Reyes said he practiced shooting three-pointers days before hitting the big trey that keyed Barangay Ginebra's classic comeback against Meralco on Saturday.
With Ginebra seemingly down and out after trailing by five points in the final seconds, the 6-foot-7 Reyes stunned his former team Meralco by hitting a three-pointer from the deep left corner with 11.8 seconds to go, 80-82, in the process pumping life into the Kings' cause.
Fellow big man Japeth Aguilar completed the great escape with a three-pointer at the buzzer, 83-82.
Reyes' only points of the game came at the most unexpected time and from the most unexpected spot, but the former University of the Philippines Maroon said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin gave him the go-signal - and the confidence - to hit that shot in practice.
“Sa practice namin, twice namin ginawa ni coach Ato (Agustin) yun eh (shooting three-points)," said the 29-year-old native of Tiwi, Albay. "Sabi ni coach pag dine-deny ang point guard sa itaas, pag wide-open ako sa three-points, huwag ako mag-dalawang isip. Itira ko lang daw."
"Thankful ako kay coach Ato,” he added.
Reyes rarely got an opportunity to shine during his years with Meralco before being sent to Ginebra in the Kerby Raymundo trade. Still he insisted he holds no ill feelings towards his former team.
“Walang personalan, trabaho namin ito. Ang intensity ko dapat ganun lang din,” said Reyes.
“Sinasabi lang ni coach huwag ako lalagpas sa role ko, basta sa poste, kumpiyansa lang saka sa perimeter pag libre itira ko lang daw,” he added.
Reyes' career is experiencing a revival at Ginebra in his role as a backup for top rookie center Greg Slaughter, averaging 5.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in 17.2 minutes of play this season.