NINO 'KG' Canaleta relishes being in a team accustomed to winning championships, for a change.
“Siyempre, masayang masaya ako na nalipat ako sa magandang team, na matibay na team,” said a beaming Canaleta after making his debut for Talk `N Text at the start of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
The former University of the East gunner struggled in his first game with the Tropang Texters, finishing with eight points on 3-of-10 field goal shooting, and had five rebounds in an 83-90 loss to San Mig Super Coffee in Game One of their best-of-three series.
Still, the five-time slamdunk champion is happy being in the company of proven winners like Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Danny Seigle, and Ranidel De Ocampo, never mind if Talk `N Text is his fourth team in nine years.
Canaleta’s more than a season of stay with Air21 prior to his trade with Talk `N Text on Monday was one that’s been marred by a lot of heartaches as the franchise lost one close game after the other.
In four conferences playing for the Express, the 6-foot-6 Canaleta only made the playoffs twice as Air21 both ended up as the no. 8 seed each time.
Worse, the Express were immediately bundled out both times.
“Masarap kasi` yung nananalo talaga eh, saka excited ako na nandito (Talk ‘N Text) ako ngayon,” he added.
Canaleta was the acknowledged resident gunner of the Express. The streak shooter was averaging 15.9 points and 6.2 rebounds while hitting at a 30 percent clip from beyond the arc before Air21 decided to ship him to Talk `N Text in exchange for Sean Anthony, rookie guard Eliud Poligrates, and a first round pick for 2016.
So it didn’t come as a surprise when Tropang Texters coach Norman Black told the 33-year-old Canaleta to reprise the same role he had with the Express.
“Sabi ni coach Norman, kung ano daw ako sa Air21, try ko dalhin dito, parang liga liga lang diyan, parang nakisali lang ako sa mga naglalaro,” he said with a smile.
“Di naman ako pine-pressure, basta just play your game, sabi niya (Black).”
He hopes the two extra days he had with the team will have him finally get used to the Tropang Texters’s system and make an immediate impact as the three-time defending champions try to avoid elimination when Game Two of their series against the Mixers is played on Friday.