HOMECOURT advantage worked for Meralco rookie Jonathan Grey after he scored a career-high 24 points in their game against Phoenix in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at The Arena in San Juan.
The former College of St. Benilde ace dropped 20 points in the second half but his efforts were not enough to save the Bolts from losing to the Fuel Masters, 90-94.
“Oo, siguro (nakatulong ang venue),” said Grey, who shot 7-of-12 from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line in 23 minutes of play. “Ang tagal kong naglaro dito eh, five years ako dito so siguro nakatulong. Lahat sumu-shoot eh.”
Although Meralco fell to joint ninth spot with Commissioner’s Cup Finals tormentor Ginebra (2-3), Grey has been impressive in his past five games. But he was quick to give the credit back to Bolts head coach Norman Black.
“Syempre nakaka-overwhelm (na mabigyan ng playing time) pero si coach Norman makikita mo naman kung sino ‘yung mainit ‘yan ang gagamitin niya eh,” he said. “So bibigyan ka talaga niya ng chance kung may ipapakita ka. So ayun lang, kailangan lang ‘wag mag-relax.”
Grey also knocked down the triple that gave the Bolts a 90-89 lead, only to see Cyrus Baguio respond with his own trey and fellow rookie Matthew Wright hit crucial free throws to seal the win for Phoenix, 94-90.
Still, Grey held his head high, displaying the composure of a veteran as he set his sights on their next game against San Miguel a week from now.
“Think positive lang. ‘Wag mo lang iisipin ang talo kasi lahat ng talo naming dikit lang, panalo na natalo pa,” he said.
The 24-year-old shooting guard also stressed that he remains motivated to keep improving despite the setbacks, and leaves no room for complacency – not in his rookie year and even in the years to come.
“Dapat ganoon, ‘yun ang winning attitude na ‘wag kang magre-relax so kailangan every game go hard ka,” he said.
“Wala, hindi ko iniisip ‘yun (to prove myself) kasi sa PBA talaga siguro kahit four years, five years ka na, kailangan i-prove ang sarili mo kasi may bagong dumadating,” he added.
“So ito na ‘yung buhay mo so gawin mo lang maging ready ka lang. Try mo lang manalo every game hanggang sa makuha mo ang goal mo.”