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    'Comeback Player' candidate Reil Cervantes makes most of his second chance in PBA

    Dec 7, 2014

    REIL Cervantes knows that second chances are hard to come by.

    That’s why the 28-year-old cager is cherishing the opportunity that Kia has given him.

    His team may have already been eliminated from playoff contention, but that didn’t stop Cervantes from putting up his best performance of the season for the Sorento in their 88-80 loss to NLEX on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

    The Far Eastern University product fired a career-high 34 points on 13-of-20 shooting on top of seven boards in 35 minutes in the Sorento’s last game of the season-opening conference.

    [See Imperfect 10 for KIA as NLEX ends elims on high note]

    Cervantes felt his breakout performance was long overdue after coming in averaging a team-leading 14.9 points along with 5.2 boards, and 1.7 assists in 28.5 minutes.

    “Matagal talaga (hinintay),” the Virac, Catanduanes native said after the game. “Awa ng Diyos, pumapasok mga tira ko.”

    But Cervantes has waited longer for his return to the PBA after being away for a while.

    The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Cervantes had an uneventful stint in the pro league with Barangay Ginebra and Barako Bull, leaving him unsigned after his rookie contract expired.

    That prompted him to ply his trade in the D-League, where he saw a revival of his career to make it back to the PBA as Kia’s second overall pick in this year’s expansion draft.

    “Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon na binigyan ako pagkakataon ng makabalik dito sa pangarap ko,” Cervantes said. “Hinding-hindi ko na pakakawalan ‘to.”

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    That definitely makes him an early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year award.

    “Sana (makuha),” he smiled.

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