NLEX’S veteran playmaker Jonas Villanueva is just happy to see his basketball career get a much-needed reboot after dealing with an assortment of injuries the past two years.
The six-foot guard out of Far Eastern University was limited to just 60 games the past two seasons while dealing with injuries to his hamstring and knee while playing for San Mig (now Purefoods Star), Barako Bull and Air21.
The offseason however, gave Villanueva some time to recuperate and strengthen his knee, while NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez encouraged him to take the lead for the Road Warriors in their maiden season in the PBA.
“I’m blessed dahil nabigyan ako another chance kasi the past three years, sobrang sunud-sunod ang injuries ko,” said the 31-year-old NLEX point guard, who is averaging career-high numbers of 10.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per contest this season.
Villanueva said when he returned last season to play for the Express, he wasn’t in 100 percent shape. But since Air21 didn’t have a natural point guard, relying instead on two-guard Joseph Yeo to play the point, he eventually had to take on a more active role for the team under Franz Pumaren.
“Hindi pa ako totally recovered but I had to play sa Air21 the past two conferences. I wasn’t healthy then,” he said.
“Pero this year, I was focused sa knee ko at wellness ko. Iyung game ko, lalabas na lang but I have to take good care of myself,” added the 2009 PBA Most Improved Player.
NLEX, which bought the Air21 franchise last June, brought back the core of the Express this season including man-mountain Asi Taulava, Enrico Villanueva, Aldrech Ramos, Mark Borboran and Nino Canaleta.
And though NLEX tumbled down to ninth spot in the standings following its 95-93 loss to streaking Rain or Shine on Tuesday, Villanueva has high hopes that the Road Warriors are capable of barging into the playoffs in their maiden PBA season.
“Siyempre, sobrang happy ako dahil nabigyan nila ako (NLEX) ng chance to run the team. This team has a playoff chance at kahit paano, may laban kami, kaya focused ako to help this team get to the quarters,” explained the NLEX playmaker.
NLEX’s last three elimination round assignments are against Alaska on Friday, Barako Bull on December 2 and expansion team KIA Motors on December 7.