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    Patience pays off as PBA Finals door finally opens for John Pinto

    John Pinto relishes playing in the PBA Finals for the first time
    Dec 31, 2019
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    THE PBA finals door finally opened for John Pinto.

    The 29-year-old Meralco guard looks forward to the experience of finally playing in his first championship series after the Bolts sealed a Governors Cup title showdown against Barangay Ginebra.

    Considering that the season didn’t start the way he wanted it to, Pinto said a first-ever finals appearance which he hopes ends up in a championship, would be a perfect way to cap the campaign.

    “Siyempre masarap. Sobrang saya kasi makakatikim na akong makalaro sa finals,” said the product of Arellano University. “Lahat naman siyempre gustong makarating dito.”

    That thought seemed impossible when the season began for Pinto.

    Coming off the finest season of his pro career with Blackwater, Pinto failed to reach a deal for a new contract with the Elite, eventually leading him to be traded to Phoenix for the duo of Gelo Alolino and Joseph Eriobu.


    Negotiations with the Fuel Masters also broke down, making his future uncertain with less than a week before the league’s 44th season was to open shop.

    With three days to go before the Philippine Cup, Phoenix shipped Pinto to Meralco for a future second-round pick.

    Pinto’s stint with the Bolts initially also appeared in the doldrums since the team was already stacked up with a bevy of guards in its backcourt that include Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, Anjo Caram, and rookies Trevis Jackson, and Bong Quinto.

    But the 5-foot-11 Davao native was more than willing to accept whatever role he was given by coach Norman Black.

    “Nag-adjust din naman ako noong una sa sistema ni coach (Norman). Tsaka dito naman andiyan na sila Baser, si Chris (Newsome), tapos si Anjo (Caram) pa,” said Pinto. “Pero tayo supporting cast lang dito, kung ano lang ang maitutulong ko sa team, masaya na ako.”

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      Much of the credit for the Bolts’ resurgence and return to the finals of the season-ending meet for the third time in four seasons had been attributed to the mid-season entry of big man Raymund Almazan and Allein Maliksi.

      Lost in the equation was the support Pinto is giving to stabilize the Bolts’ backcourt and serve as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

      Pinto doesn’t mind it at all.

      “Basta kung ano lang ang maitulong, yun ang gagawin natin,” said the guard, who was originally a second-round pick (19th overall) by NorthPort in the 2014 draft. “Siyempre sino ba ang hindi gustong makatulong sa team.”

      The best-of-seven finals begins on Jan. 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

      Get more of the latest sports news & updates on SPIN.ph

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      PHOTO: PBA Images
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