IT took Jay Washington just two conferences to return to the winner's circle with Talk 'N Text.
Traded by GlobalPort to the Tropang Texters before the start of the 40th season, Washington came in to embrace his new role under coach Jong Uichico - that of being a defensive stopper instead of his customary go-to-guy job - and was amply rewarded in his Talk 'N Text homecoming.
No wonder that after Talk ‘N Text outlasted Rain or Shine, 121-119 in the first Game Seven to go to two overtimes in PBA history, the first words to come out of the 6-foot-7 wingman’s mouth were, ‘Mission accomplished.'
“That’s exactly what I wanted when I came back (to Talk ‘N Text) and wanted to be a part of,” Washington told Spin.ph after after earning his third PBA championship since entering the league as the first overall pick of Air21 in the 2005 PBA Rookie Draft.
“When I left (Talk ‘N Text), I had to watch them win all these championships. But now, it feels good to be able to come back and be able to contribute.”
The former Eckerd College standout actually began his career with Talk ‘N Text in the 2006 season, playing for sportsman-businessman Manny V. Pangilinan’s flagship franchise for three years before surprisingly being shipped to San Miguel Beer in exchange for the draft rights to Jayson Castro.
Castro was selected third overall in the 2008 Rookie Draft at that time.
The sweet-shooting Fil-Am forward went on to win two championships and a pair of runner-up finishes while playing for the Beermen from 2008 to 2011.
But deep down inside, Washington said he came to admire Talk ‘N Text's run of four Philippine Cup titles (2009, 2011-2013) and a Commissioner’s Cup championship in 2011.
“The culture here is second to none, just amazing and brilliant players and coaches,” he said.
Now he's happy to be a part of it again.
“I love to watch RDO (Ranidel de Ocampo) and Jayson every night give it to the team and for me, coming off the bench, it’s more of a privilege to watch these guys operate every night and get it done,” added the two-time Best Player of the Conference awardee.
“We have great coaches. Coach Tab (Baldwin) and Coach Jong and all of our assistants, and of course, the management because they give us everything we need to succeed, so this (championship) is what we expect,” he added.
At 33, Washington said he wants to see his PBA career end with the Talk ‘N Text franchise, where he hopes to collect more championships just like his teammates de Ocampo and Castro.
“I hope this is my last stop. I’ve been around the league and been on enough teams and different sides and see everything that goes on. But this is where I want to finish my career,” said Washington.
“I learned a lot from the first time. I have grown a lot and had to become a lot more mature.”