A COURAGEOUS performance may have saved Brian Butch's job.
The Meralco import earned plaudits from no less than team owner Manny V. Pangilinan after leading an epic fightback from 20 points down by the Bolts in a 109-98 win over Air21 on Sunday.
Under pressure with Darnell Jackson already in town and waiting in the wings, the hardworking former All-American center had 40 points and 31 rebounds to rescue the Bolts from what for a time had looked like certain defeat.
“What can I say? He was 40 and 31 under extreme pressure and extreme duress,” gushed Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio. "I have not seen a performance like that in a long long while."
Team governor Mon Segismundo said the coaching staff is set to meet to decide the fate of Butch. But from the reaction of owner Pangilinan, it looked like the import will not be going home anytime soon.
Pangilinan said Butch's effort was one of the best performances he has seen as he personally congratulated the Bolts import at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after the game.
“He played very well. He outscored the whole Air 21 team in the fourth quarter,” Pangilinan said while expressing reservations over the possible import change.
“Eh, pag-uusapan pa 'yun. Ultimately it’s the coaches’ decision. Ganun kami eh. Pag-uusapan pa 'yun,” added the businessman/sports patron.
Meanwhile, Butch told Spin.ph he never let the pressure get to him during the game.
“As an import, there’s always pressure. But I just have to play hard. Every game is my last here in the PBA. It’s business, I’ll just play as hard as I can,” he said.
Asked if he was aware that a standby import is already in town, Butch said yes.
“Yeah, I’ve heard. But I just keep playing hard, that’s all I can do,” he said.
And will it be fair if he gets the pink slip soon?
“I’ll just let the fans answer that one. But I hope to stay. The fans here are very smart. They know their basketball, Filipino fans understand the game and they understand everything. That comeback was a great show for them,” said Butch.
Watch a video of Brian Butch being warmly received by teammates at the dugout after the win:
“I think all the players at the locker room have my back, and I think that we play extremely well together as a team,” he said.
True enough, Best Player of the Game awardee Jared Dillinger put his support behind Butch.
“Myself, included, all of the guys here. Everyone’s behind him 100 percent and he definitely has what it takes for us to make a run at a title this year,” Dillinger said.
“You’re asking me if I want him (Butch) to stay? Is that a question? Anytime you have a 40 and 31 you’ll gonna stay,” Dillinger added with a wink.