HE’S the least heralded player in the deep Alaska bench that has the likes of Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Jayvee Casio, Vic Manuel and even rookie Chris Banchero.
And so it came as a surprise for guard Chris Exciminiano that he was specially mentioned by coach Alex Compton in the aftermath of the Aces’ 93-88 win over Rain or Shine in Game Five of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Although he only had two points and two rebounds in the win that gave the Aces a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, Compton didn’t fail to note how Exciminiano’s defensive presence and intensity helped Alaska turn around a game which had the Aces trailing by as many as 19 points at one point in the second quarter.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach siyempre sa tiwalang binibigay niya sa akin. Yung game ko, yung hustle ko, yun naman kasi ang role ko sa team,” said Exciminiano, who saw action for 20 minutes and served as the Aces’ catalyst on defense.
With the 26-year-old stocky guard out of Far Eastern University bringing energy to the Aces, Alaska outscored Rain or Shine on points off turnovers, 20-8, and had more fastbreak points, 23-8.
“I credit Chris Exciminiano since his defensive effort changed the game (for us). He was fantastic,” Compton said in praising the player Alaska tabbed with the No. 18 overall pick during the 2013 Rookie Draft.
"He's really a very good kid."
Cyrus Baguio also commended the effort put up by Exciminiano, who’s bound to become a father for the third time to yet another baby girl.
“Si Chris, I think two points lang yata siya, pero grabe `yung hustle niya. He’s everywhere on the floor, kaya ang sarap kasama sa laro,” said the high-flying guard of his sophomore teammate.
The native of Zambales said he’s thankful that somehow his coach and teammates acknowledged the usual ‘little things’ he did on the floor.
“At least kahit paano nahawa `yung team sa akin. Nagising `yung team, lahat kami dumipensa,” he said.
At this point of the playoffs, Exciminiano said there’s really no turning back especially for him as he’s playing a big part for the Aces in his first-ever semis series.
And who knows, a first-ever finals stint may soon follow.