Ginebra fan Joel Villanueva takes pride in seeing fellow Tigers thrive in intense semis with Star
Senator Joel Villanueva has mixed emotions in seeing fellow UST cagers slug it out in the intense semis between Star and his favorite Ginebra team. Jerome Ascano and Jaime Campos

SENATOR Joel Villanueva admitted having mixed emotions in watching his favorite Ginebra team face off against Star Hotshots with fellow University of Santo Tomas former cagers slug it out in the semifinals of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup.

Villanueva, himself a former UST cager, was present at courtside Friday as he watched and showed support to fellow Growling Tigers—Star forward Allein Maliksi and Ginebra stalwarts Jerry Cruz, Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano.

“Actually whoever’s inside the basketball court I’m cheering for them so mahirap kapag lahat ng taga-UST nandoon, mahirap (mag-cheer),” said Villanueva, a self-confessed ka-barangay who likened the game’s intensity to a Senate hearing.

“Kapag sabay-sabay na sila nasa court ang hirap na, ‘di ko na alam,” he added after Star prevailed in Game Five, 89-80, and took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The former two-time UAAP champion could not hide his never-say-die spirit, but admitted that he’d be just as happy and proud when Maliksi does well, even if it means beating the team he supports.

“I think Allein knows very well na I’m cheering for Ginebra but every time Allein makes a basket or does a good play, he would look at me and make sure that I appreciate what he’s doing,” said Villanueva.

“So I’m happy for UST cagers and ayun nga kahit Ginebra fan ako, kahit talo, I’m happy and proud for Allein,” he added.

Star will go for the kill on Game Six on Sunday, but Villanueva believes that Ginebra won't simply give the win to the Hotshots.

“Knowing Ginebra, it has that never-say-die attitude eh,” he said. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin