ALASKA rookie guard Chris Exciminiano came through with the best game in his young PBA career on a night he least expected to play.
Buried at the tailend of a deep backcourt roster of the Aces, Exciminiano was called to duty when nothing seemed to be going right for the team in its PLDT myDSL-Philippine Cup game against Air21.
And the former Far Eastern University stalwart readily lived up to the challenge as he helped Alaska overcome the Express in overtime, 97-91.
They Said It!
“Kailangan ko ibigay ang best ko talaga, lalo na manganganak ang misis ko." - Alaska Aces rookie Chris Exciminiano
Exciminiano, who had been a player of Alaska coach Luigi Trillo with Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBA D-League, torched the opposition for 16 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the three-point distance in just 15 minutes of play.
As surprised as everyone was at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum with the way he played, so was Exciminiano himself.
“Di ko ine-expect eh (to play). Nagulat talaga ako eh, kaya nung hinugot ako ni coach Luigi, sabi ko, ito na `yung pagkakataon ko,” he said of that sudden moment when Trillo called his name off the bench.
“Kailangan ko ibigay ang best ko talaga, lalo na manganganak ang misis ko,” he added.
The rookie guard said adjustment to PBA life wasn’t easy, since he has been noted more for his defense than offense during his college days and in his stint in the D-League.
But as he began tagging along Alaska veterans led by Dondon Hontiveros, JV Casio, RJ Jazul, and sophomore forward Aldrech Ramos after practice, he started to develop his outside shooting.
“Lagi kasi nila (Alaska teammates) sinasabi sa akin na PBA na ito. So kailangan, di ka lang nagde-depensa dito, pero may opensa din. Kailangan mo maging threat,” he recalled of his teammates’ advices.
Exciminiano gave credit to Hontiveros for challenging him to do extra shooting drills after practice.
“Sobrang laking tulong nila, lalo na si kuya Dondon. Lagi niya akong china-challenge sa practice,” he added.