ALEX Cabagnot’s game-winning runner in Petron’s 90-88 squeaker over Air21 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum came as a fitting birthday present for the fit-again guard in his season debut.
“It feels great. Parang birthday gift ko sa sarili ‘to,” Cabagnot, who turned 31 last December 8, said inside the Petron dugout after the game - his first in two months.
Off the timeout and with the game tied at 88-all, Cabagnot received a solid pick from June Mar Fajardo, drove to his left then got himself wide-open for the floater near the free-throw line with 3.5 seconds left.
They Said It!
“I wanted to take the responsibility. I wanted to put the pressure on me." - Petron point guard Alex Cabagnot
“I wanted to take the responsibility. I wanted to put the pressure on me,” said Cabagnot, the Petron skipper who has earned the reputation as one of the league’s best closers. “My teammates are very supportive naman.”
Cabagnot said he wanted to bring down the clock to the final second, but found himself too open for the game-winning play since Asi Taulava decided to stick with Fajardo rather than help defend the Petron point guard.
“Ang ganda ng game ni June Mar, so I think Asi stayed with him instead of going to me. And June Mar set a great pick tapos may shooters ako sa side so they can’t help as much,” Cabagnot explained.
“So I knew when I turned the corner, I didn’t know I was going to be that open, but I knew I was going to be open.”
More than being open, Cabagnot, who admittedly he is far from tip-top shape, was surprised that he had to use the same exact shot he worked on in the Boosters’ practice with shooting partner Axel Doruelo the day before.
“Himala na I had to use it tonight.”