BETTER late than never as JC Intal is set to make his conference debut for Phoenix in its last game of the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations on Wednesday night against Ginebra.
Sidelined for more than two months after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle, the Fuel Masters star has been cleared to play and has joined his fifth practice on Monday.
“Sobrang excited, pero at the same time, kailangan kong i-control, ‘di ba?” Intal told SPIN.ph after practice. “Ayaw ko manggigil ko sa first game ko.”
“At least nakahabol kahit isang game (sa eliminations),” he added. “Hopefully, playoffs magtuloy-tuloy kasi nasayang yung opportunity namin against Alaska.”
The athletic 6-foot-4 wingman, who dyed his hair blonde, started his rehab and therapy in Malaysia two months ago before undergoing local recovery at a therapy center in White Plains, Quezon City for 24 sessions.
“Tiynaga ko rin naman nung wala ako sa team,” Intal, who turns 33 on Sunday, said. “Syempre kailangan ng puhunan bago bumalik eh.”
“Ngayon, sobrang excited kasi Ginebra pa 'yung kalaban,” the former Gin King forward added.
Fuel Masters coach Ariel Vanguardia welcomed the boost they will get from Intal, who averaged 12.8 points, 5.4 boards, and 1.7 assists in 31.1 minutes in the season's first two conferences.
“I’m happy that JC will be playing,” Vanguardia said. “We were really conservative on when his return will be, but I think he’s ready. He wanted to play last game, pero dinelay muna namin para yung conditioning na lang niya yung kulang.”