RJ Jazul bared he was struck by dengue that caused his sluggish performance for Alaska in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup, where the Aces squandered a twice-to-beat advantage against eventual finalist Ginebra.
The veteran combo guard was among the team’s leading scorers in the eliminations, averaging 9.5 points built around 2.1 three-pointers a game on 41.1-percent shooting from rainbow country, along with 3.4 assists, three boards, and one steal in 24.4 minutes.
But he fared poorly in the quarterfinals where he wound up scoreless after missing all his nine shots, and contributed just two assists, one rebound, and one steal in two games combined on an average of 14.5 minutes per game.
Less than two weeks later, the Aces sent Jazul to Phoenix for sophomore playmaker Simon Enciso.
Jazul said he initially shrugged off the dengue-like symptoms he started feeling even before the quarterfinals, but was eventually confined in a hospital for almost a week – a few days after the Aces kissed their campaign goodbye.
“Every night, may trangkaso at nagchi-chill ako, pero as a player, akala mo pagod ka lang, tapos yun (dengue) na pala,” the seven-year veteran recounted in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Wednesday. “Nagpa-CBC ako, ang baba ng platelet (count) ko, so na-confine na ako.”
“Sunday ako na-admit, tapos Friday tanghali (ako nag-check out), tapos nalaman ko yung trade ng Sabado,” he added with a chuckle.
Naturally, Jazul was surprised by the trade.
“Oo naman. As a player, kung asan ka, gusto mo dun ka na eh… Parang ang mindset mo is dun ka na (magre-retire),” said the 2010 second-round pick, who played five seasons with Alaska. “Pero syempre ang realidad, hindi naman ganun. Nature ng business is trades, so okay lang.
“Yung timing, nakakagulat din kasi I got out of the hospital nun eh,” he added. “Siguro, pwede mo sabihin na ganun (yung dahilan kung bakit masama laro ko), pero ayaw ko naman gumawa ng excuse.”
Asked if he thought his sluggish showing played a factor in him getting traded, Jazul would rather focus on the present.
“Mahirap magsalita eh, pero kasi syempre marami ring factor,” the former Letran star, who turns 31 next month, began. “Ang sinabi lang sa akin is gusto ako ng Phoenix. Matagal na raw ako hinihingi, at siguro nagka-timing lang din na ganun nangyari (sa quarterfinals). Ayaw ko naman mag-judge na dahil sa game.
“Pero syempre nandito na ako, so i-embrace ko na lang yung bagong role ko,” he was quick to add. “Masaya naman. Masaya yung culture. Parang pareho rin yung culture namin sa Alaska, pero kung ano yung natutunan ko dun, dadalhin ko na lang dito, tsaka kung ano pang pwedeng improvement, I’ll bring to the table na lang.”
The transition has been seamless so far as Jazul is reunited with former Toyota coach Ariel Vanguardia and former teammates in Cyrus Baguio, Doug Kramer (Rain or Shine), JC Intal (Letran Squires), assistant coach Nic Belasco, and team manager Paolo Bugia.
As he paid gratitude to Alaska, Jazul continued to look forward to his stint with the Fuel Masters.
“Sobrang thankful ako sa Alaska,” he said. “Nung nandun ako, parang feeling ko yun na yung best team sa mga napuntahan ko … yung samahan naming players, yun yung, kumbaga kahit sinong galing sa Alaska na wala na ngayon, yun yung nag-stick sa utak. Yun yung nakaka-miss.”
“Pero ito, para sa akin, hindi naman new beginning, pero challenge din kasi ang alam ko, gusto ako ng Phoenix na para maging leader,” the 5-foot-11 playmaker said. “Medyo bigger role.”