BARANGAY Ginebra's Asian reinforcement Sanchir Tungalag was excited to play against Talk 'N Text, having become familiar with some of the Gilas Pilipinas players in the team during the last Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.
His number was never called.
"He was really excited to play against Talk 'N Text. Kasi sabi niya, kilala niya 'yung ibang players ng team like sila Jayson Castro, (team manager) Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo,” said a source close to the Mongolian national player.
Instead, the Ginebra import spent the whole game sitting on the bench while the Tropang Texters held off an Orlando Johnson-led fightback by a similarly undermanned Ginebra team to pull off a 95-91 victory.
In the end, Sanchir was as baffled as everyone else on why he was benched.
“He was so frustrated. He even asked: ‘Why is coach not using me?’ Wala akong naisagot sa kanya, because it’s the prerogative of the coach,” said the team insider.
Sanchir had nothing much to say when he was besieged with questions by reporters after the game, but found comfort and solace in the positive comments and encouragement of fans sent to his @SanchirT141 Twitter account.
Some enraged fans even went to the extent of writing open letters to Ginebra coach Frankie Lim over what they claimed was 'unfair treatment' of the Mongolian basketball star.
One fan questioned why a player who stood out for Mongolia in the last Asiad is rotting on the bench at Ginebra.
Yet another even went to the extend of questioning Lim's strategy.
Although baffled and frustrated, the source said Sanchir remained hopeful and never lost respect for his coach.
“He is still very positive. He likes playing for Ginebra. Alam niya na ito ang pinakasikat na team sa bansa. And he loves how fans give him a very warm welcome,” said the source.
“As of now, he tries to transform his frustrations into self-motivation. He wants to prove something,” said the source.
He continued: “Nothing, he respects his coach very much. Walang sama ng loob whatsoever. He may be frustrated pero he makes it a point to keep his respect intact."
Lim, on the other hand, continues to decline questions about Sanchir's benching and his fate in the team. But information from Ginebra’s coaching staff bared one major flaw of Sanchir: he is trigger-happy.
“Alam mo naman si Frankie, disiplina ang hinahabol nun parati. Tapos you will have this kind of player na kahit ilang beses mo sabihan to share the ball, uunahin ang sariling opensa,” said the source.
The frustrated Ginebra insider even revealed how Sanchir would most of the time get into the nerves of the coaching staff and his teammates.
“May katigasan ng ulo eh. Kay Frankie, bawal ang astig dun. Walang pakialam 'yun ke superstar ka o ano. 'Pag di ka sumunod sa patakaran niya, may paglalagyan ka,” he said.
“May pagka-buwakaw. Hindi team player. Si Franikie team player ang hanap sa mga players niya, play execution ang importante sa kanya. 'Pag ikaw gagawa ka ng sarili mong play, mahihirapan ka,” he added. “Masyadong offensive minded, nakakalimutan dumepensa.”
The same source also bared that the benching of Sanchir has the blessing of Ginebra higher ups.
“Bago siya (Lim) nag-decide dyan (Sanchir benching) may blessing ng management yan!” said the source, pointing out that San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang has been very hands on with the affairs of the popular team.