Fit-again Baclao draws praise in helping Alaska regain defensive teeth
Noy Baclao showed he's back in game shape even in limited minutes as he gave the Alaska defense a big boost. Marlo Cueto

CALVIN Abueva wasn’t the only Alaska player who made a statement return and provided a huge spark off the bench in their 93-75 rout of Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night.

Noy Baclao did the same, showing he’s finally back in shape after recovering from a recurring knee injury.

In just his second game back after his knee injury sidelined him for almost two months, the veteran big man contributed on both ends, putting up 10 points after making all but one of his six shots, and adding seven boards, two blocks, and one assist in less than 13 minutes off the bench.

“Sobra (na-miss ko maglaro),” Baclao said after the game. “Tapos ganun laro namin, sarap, lalo na na physical yung game, lahat ready talaga. Makikita mo yung teammate mo nagda-dive, so syempre ikaw mismo, gusto mo rin gawin yun. Masarap maglaro compared na nanonood ka lang.”

“Sinabi naman ni coach Alex na I’m going to start slowly,” he added. “Okay naman kahit papaano. Tsaka thankful din ako sa medical team ng Alaska, kasi sobrang laking tulong din nila sa akin, like yung sa tuhod ko, parang mina-manage nila yung injury ko para hindi lumala.”

The first overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Baclao made the most of his limited time and provided what he has been known for – and what the Aces have been lacking.  

“Noy came in and gave us a shotblocking presence that we never had. We missed him,” Compton said. “I thought he was great tonight.”

And Baclao was just simply repaying Compton’s faith.

“Knowing sa system ni coach Alex naman, lahat dapat ready, kasi eventually, ready ka talaga,” the former Ateneo stalwart said. “Okay naman. Hingal-hingal pa nga ako sa minutes ko eh, naghahabol pa ko.”

“Sobrang thankful naman ako na binibigyan ako ni coach Alex ng chance makalaro at mabalik yung kumpiyansa ko kahit papaano,” he added.


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos