Bong Ramos and Josh Urbiztondo have gone separate ways since the latter started to make a name for himself with Air21 in the 2010-2011 PBA season.
Two seasons later, as coach and player are reunited at Barako Bull, Ramos is glad to witness the continued growth of the spitfire playmaker.
Named as the first Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, Urbiztondo's performance had Ramos recalling the time when his ward earned the moniker 'Fireball' for exploding for 31 points in a game with the Express two seasons ago.
"Iyung Josh Urbiztondo na iyon, I think nandiyan na siya ulit," Ramos said, adding the improved game is a result of the undrafted guard's blue-collar work ethic. "He keeps pushing himself, in practice and in any game.”
Urbiztondo earned the scribes’ nod for the weekly citation after the San Francisco-born guard averaged 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists and led a depleted Barako side not only to a pair of wins but, surprisingly, to the top of the standings after the first week of competition.
The Energy Cola’s starting point guard began his roll by tallying 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists to lead his team past former team and defending champion San Mig Coffee on opening night last Friday.
Urbiztondo followed up his solid performance two nights later with a stats line of 24 points, five boards and four assists in the 98-88 overtime win over Globalport in a game that gave them the solo lead despite the continued absence of Enrico Villanueva, Celino Cruz, Roger Yap, Sean Anthony, JC Intal, and Emman Monfort.
"It's such a blessing to have a two-zero start this conference," stated Urbiztondo, who turns 29 on February 27. "I'm going to continue to contribute in every way I can to keep these wins coming."
Now a marked man, Urbiztondo’s intentions are easier said than done.
"That's the challenge," Ramos said.