ROBBIE Herndon hardly played for San Miguel over the past games, but he delivered the clutch moments in Game Three of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday.
Inserted in the line-up only after Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez fouled out in Game Three, Herndon scored five of his eight points in overtime which proved vital in the Beermen's 108-100 win over TNT at the Mall of Asia Arena.
[See Herndon turns from goat to hero in Game 3]
Herndon said his heroics in overtime had a lot to do with the boo-boo he made late in the fourth quarter when he was slapped a technical for delay of game while defending the inbound pass of Roger Pogoy.
That sent Pogoy to the free throw line for the charity that erased SMB's one-point lead, 94-all, with 11.7 seconds left.
“For me, it was more so with the mistake I made, with the technical, I had to make up for it,” said Herndon, who is in his first finals appearance with San Miguel after being acquired in a trade with Converge during the offseason.
“I was a little more motivated and it lit a fire in me because I was like, that was a big turnaround. We could have just got a stop and won the game. But instead, my technical mistake gave them a free throw and we go to overtime.
“It was more so like I had to make up for that mistake,” said Herndon.
Asked what led to the technical foul, the 29-year-old Herndon said there was miscommunication between him and the referee.
“He told me that I was able to do that. I had one of those. But I guess they counted that we already had a delay of game. I think we were trying to sub a player in and we cancel the sub. I didn’t know that it counted already a warning so I thought we still had one to do that.
"I guess it was just a miscommunication with me and the ref,” said Herndon.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria said Herndon apologized for the mistake.
“He said na napaapak lang siya. It’s not the usual thing na lalapitan mo, but the referee, nabigyan niya ng chance na tumawag kaya natawagan siya. Nagkaroon ng konting lituhan lang,” said Austria.
“I’m happy for him na na-redeem niya sarili niya. After the game, sabi niya, ‘Coach, sorry. My fault.’ Sabi ko, ‘No, it’s not your fault. It’s part of the game,’” said Austria.
Herndon came cold off the bench replacing Perez, but immediately hit a key three with 2:13 left in the fourth that gave SMB a 94-90 lead in regulation.
The newly-acquired San Miguel cager said he was prepared for such moments when he was still a player for Magnolia during his first season in the PBA in 2017.
“It’s not easy but I kinda had similar situations like that when I played for Magnolia during my rookie year. It’s not the first time that I was kinda put in a game like that towards the end and things like that happened.”
“I think Magnolia kinda prepared me for moments like this. And the players on my team, the coaches always tell me to stay ready because you’ll never know when you are going to go in,” said Herndon.
Herndon said he will continue to stay ready if his number is called again at crucial moments during the PBA Finals.
“I have no control over when I’m going in and the minutes I play but I’ll stay ready. I’m not the only guy on the bench that go in and produce. There are other guys in this team that sits on the bench and don’t really get an opportunity but they are really good basketball players. That’s how strong our team is,” said Herndon.