Gabby Espinas a champion again, thanks to SMB gamble on him after serious injury
Gabby Espinas is greeted by a fan wearing an Alaska shirt after winning a championship with San Miguel Beer. Jaime Campos

GABBY Espinas is grateful for the opportunity given to him by San Miguel despite coming off an injury when he was acquired by the team from Alaska earlier in the PBA 40th season.

The power forward was recovering from a severe ankle injury during the Philippine Cup while still with the Aces when he was dealt to GlobalPort and later on, with the Beermen in a series of trades mdiway through the season.

As fate would have it, Espinas would find himself back with San Miguel, the same team which picked him fifth overall during the 2006 rookie draft.

Ironic, too, that Espinas helped the Beermen sweep his former team Alaska in the Governors Cup Finals  on Friday night,

“Masaya kasi former team ko ang kalaban. Galing ako sa kanila. Gusto ko lang din makatulong (sa San Miguel),” said the 33-year-old Espinas, who was the one who cut the net from the ring following the Beermen's championship.

The former star player of Philippine Christian University admitted he's grateful for the trust given him by San Miguel management and coach Leo Austria despite the injury he suffered.

“Nagpapasalamat ako na kinuha pa rin niya ako kahit galing ako sa injury,” said Espinas.

[See Former teammates Espinas, Abueva insist they're still friends, but action show otherwise]

At San Miugel,, Espinas said he learned to be patient with the limited playing minutes he had.

“Siguro pasensya kasi hindi naman niya ako mabibibigyan ng minuto. Sabi ko kay coach, 'Walang problema ‘yun,” Espinas told

At the same time, the bruising forward insisted he doesn’t hold any grudge against Alaska.

“Wala naman akong bitterness. Sa mga past interviews ko sinabi ko na ‘yun. Hindi masama ang loob ko kasi part ng trabaho ‘yun,” Espinas said.

He also made it clear he's definitely still friends with Alaska stalwart and former teammate Calvin Abueva despite the heated exchange of words they had during the course of the series.

“Actually, hindi pa kami nakakapag-usap. Pero magkaibigan kami. Walang grudges. Outside the court, magkaibigan kami,” said Espinas.

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