BARAKO Bull’s Josh Urbiztondo played like a man possessed against his former team San Mig Coffee on Sunday night in the PBA Philippine Cup, but he insisted it was in no way a statement game.
The Fil-Am point guard finished with 14 points, six rebounds, and eight assists, and whipped the bullet pass that set up a driving Enrico Villanueva for the potential game-winner in the waning seconds. But Rafi Reavis' controversial tap on the ball allowed the Mixers to escape with a 92-91 victory.
Urbiztondo was quick to shrug off the loss, and likewise dismissed the common notion that he played his heart out to prove something against the Mixers – the same bunch of guys with whom he won a championship with early this year, only to be traded away to the Energy Cola during the offseason.
“You know, people will tend to make a big issue of playing against your former team,” said Urbiztondo, who faced San Mig Coffee for the first time this season since the stunning trade.
“As a professional, you have to approach basketball the same way every time. You approach it like you do any game. It was a tough loss, but you have to move forward.”
San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone was later seen approaching his former point guard after the game, and whispered words of encouragement in his ear.
"He said, `You’re just playing a hell of basketball. You’re running this team very well. I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work. Maybe we could see each other again in the future,” said Urbiztondo, quoting the words Cone uttered to him.
Despite playing for another team now, Josh said he has kept the line open with his former teammates, with whom he had become close especially after their epic championship victory over Talk `N Text in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup.
“The relationship will always be there, but once you step on to the court, it’s all business,” he said. “The PBA is a small community, so you build relationships when you play for a team, when you win a championship with them. The relationship is always lifelong.”
Roger Yap, another former San Mig Coffee stalwart now playing for Barako Bull, also felt the same way.
The tough guard from Cebu scored five points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished off three assists against the franchise with whom he won a pair of championships in the past.
“Nagkataon lang siguro,” he said laughing about the thought of taking on his former team for the first time since returning to the PBA this season following a short stint in the Asean Basketball League.
Yap said he even went to the San Mig Coffee dugout prior to the game and exchanged pleasantries with his ex-teammates.
“Before the game, doon pa ako tumambay, nakipag-kuwentuhan,” he revealed. “Kahit wala na rin naman ako sa team, ganun pa rin `yung samahan. Lahat naman yan kaibigan ko.”