OUTSIDE the triumvirate of Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, and Jason Perkins, there's one other player quietly making his mark for Phoenix Super LPG.
Justin Chua made his mark again on Monday, grabbing 11 rebounds and proving to be a force on defense by blocking five shots in the Fuel Masters’ 100-95 win over Blackwater - their seventh in 10 elimination-round outings.
The former Ateneo center looked to have finally found a home at Phoenix, his team for three years now, after bouncing around the league with five ballclubs early in his career.
He found a believer in Phoenix coach Topex Robinson, who said he had always thought that Chua had that ability to become a force on the boards and a defensive stopper.
“’Yung tinuro lang sa kanya is the mindset of him to believe in himself. Super basic," said Robinson. "I just told him, you’ve been in this league for a while, you’ve been to five teams already and this is the best time to make yourself valuable.
"Whether it’s your defense or your three-point shooting, make yourself valuable. ‘Yun ang importante sa kanya and he embraced it.”
Chua is now averaging 12.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks, but Robinson said the big man remains as eager as ever to learn and improve.
“What we love about Justin is he’s so coachable. He’s always gonna ask you questions, he will not hesitate to try things, gamble on things, and innovate," he said. "He is going to make mistakes but he is receptive and we are just happy for him that Justin broke out of his shell."