Rookie Roger Pogoy feels blessed to get long exposure - and makes every second count
Roger Pogoy greets fellow Cebuano June Mar Fajardo at the end of Game 3. Jerome Ascano

ROGER Pogoy continued to show maturity beyond his years and repay his coach Nash Racela’s faith as he left a major imprint in TNT KaTropa’s 98-92 win over San Miguel Beer in Game Three of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Sunday night.

The 24-year-old rookie wingman put up a career-high 22 points as he converted half of his 16 shots, including six three-pointers, the last one giving the Texters the needed 92-86 cushion with a little over three minutes left.

“Pumapasok lang yung mga tira ko sa labas kasi nagco-collapse sila kay Kuya Jayson (Castro),” Pogoy said. “Lahat ng lusot ni Kuya Jayson collapse sila kaya libreng-libre ako.”

But the Gilas Pilipinas cadet insisted offense was only his second priority as he added seven boards, three assists, and two steals, without committing a single turnover in 33 minutes.

“Yun palaging sinasabi ni Coach Nash na at first talaga, depensa ako, second na lang yung offense,” Pogoy said. “Buti naman nag-improve na yung opensa ko, pero ini-improve ko talaga first is yung depensa. Yun ang role ko sa team eh.”

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Making significant contributions on both ends of the floor, the intrepid freshman from Cebu ended up playing the second-most minutes in the team, just a few seconds behind Castro.

“Tagal na kasi kaming magkasama ni Coach Nash, yun din nagbigay ng kumpiyansa sakin kasi binibigyan niya ako ng minutes,” Pogoy said. “Tapos tinutulungan din ako ng mga beterano na wag kang mahiya, wag kang matakot.”

As a result, Pogoy is two wins away from reaching the finals right in his first attempt as a pro.

“Sobrang blessed kasi bihira lang yung rookie na ganito – maganda yung laro tapos konting push na lang mag-finals na,” Pogoy said. “Sobrang blessed lang.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos