JOSHUA Smith has just anchored TNT KaTropa to a finals appearance in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, yet he already showed he’s a champion – at least he has the heart of one – on Saturday night.
The hurting Texters import gallantly played on one good foot, doing enough damage that factored in the team’s 122-109 win over Barangay Ginebra in the series clincher in Game Four.
“I feel great, man,” Smith said after tallying 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, two assists, and one block in 21 minutes. “I mean, that's why I came here -- to play the season and have a chance to get into the championship.”
“I mean, right now its adrenalin and everything, I'll probably be sore in a couple of hours,” the 6-foot-9, 330-pound behemoth added.
A cloud of uncertainty hovered over the Texters camp after Smith came out in the middle of the second quarter of Game Three and never returned. Some said his shoe was just broken, while others insisted it was a foot injury that forced him to sit out the rest of the game, allowing the Gin Kings to pull a game back.
It was eventually confirmed that Smith was nursing a foot injury, yet he still showed up in practice the following day and assured he would play in Game Four.
“I think he sacrificed a lot for this game,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “I know he is hurting, I don’t know really to what extent, but knowing how important this game is, he decided to play."
“He said ‘I was hurting, but it will hurt me more if I don’t play,’ and that’s the heart of a champion,” he added. “To that, we are so thankful for Joshua.”
Smith, though, was still noncommittal on his immediate future with the Texters as he’s taking it on a day-to-day basis on whether he can continue to play in the Finals or not.
“I have no idea,” Smith said. “We go to practice on Monday, we'll see but right now we'll take it day-by-day.”