JAYPEE Mendoza admitted he initially feared he suffered the same career-ending injury Eugene Tejada had years ago after the Alaska wingman hurt his neck late in the Aces’ 94-89 win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Winning a rebound battle against Jericho Cruz with 26.1 seconds left, Mendoza landed badly with the back of his head hitting the floor first. Cruz later jumped on him in a desperate bid to force a jump ball, the RoS guard's knee hitting Mendoza's head.
Mendoza was stretchered out of the court, his neck immobilized as a precautionary measure.
Asked what was the first thing that ran through his mind when he hurt his neck, Mendoza admitted it was the horrific incident involving Tejada, who dislocated his spine in 2007 while playing for B-Meg.
“Actually yung kay Eugene (Tejada ang naisip ko), napanood ko yun eh,” the sophomorw wingman admitted. “So nung nangyari sa akin na hindi ko maramdaman, parang biglang pumasok sa isip ko yun.”
“Nagpapasalamat naman ako kay God na safe naman, wala namang serious ‘tong injury na ‘to,” he was quick to add. “Thankful lang talaga ako kay Lord.”
Mendoza admitted he initially couldn’t feel his neck after the injury, before finally doing so after the medical staff had him take a test.
“Kinabahan ako, ang sakit eh. Parang ang bigat ng dumagan sa akin. Di ko alam kung ano, kaya parang nahirapan akong igalaw,” Mendoza recounted. “Pag dating dito, may mga ginawang test sina doc, then after a while, parang nag-loosen up naman yung leeg ko, pero kahit papaano, may pain pa rin.”
Team doctor Facundo Sun allayed fears that the injury is serious.
“Well, the first thing I did was examine everything, his extremities were functioning,” Sun said. “We don’t want to have another Eugene, that's what we are worried about.”
“(But) nothing serious,” he added. “We just try to solve the inflammation as soon as possible. I think he should be okay by Sunday, hopefully. I think we will have another evaluation.”