IT took a bush league game in Marikina to remind us how good Willie Miller was - and how good he still is.
Left unsigned by all the PBA teams at the start of the season, the two-time pro league MVP took his act to the DeLeague in Marikina where, on Wednesday night, he hit one of the most memorable buzzer-beating three-point shots - regardless in what league.
The 36-year-old pride of Olongapo City led Siargao's fightback from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter and saved his best for last, rescuing the team owned by Nestor Luego from losing twice-to-beat edge in the final after Hobe Bihon hit a three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left, 71-74.
That, it turned out, only set the stage for Miller Time.
Reacting quickly after a three-point try by teammate Dodie Sta. Cruz was deflected, the former Letran star picked up the loose ball then beat the buzzer with a three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
See the amazing play on VIDEO:
Siargao went on to win the game, 85-79, and the championship in the league organized by Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman, but the game will be remembered for Miller's late heroics which, his fans say, only show that 'The Thriller' still has what it takes to play in the PBA.
"He still deserves a spot in the PBA," says Siargao coach and fellow Letran alumni Ronjay Enrile. "Well sa ipinakita ni Willie, talagang dapat pa siyang lumaro sa PBA. Unfair lang kasi talaga nangyari sa kanya. Malakas pa siya at kundisyon.
"Itong panalo namin, talagang ipinapakita na pagsumandal ka sa balikat niya, at nagtiwala ka, he will not fail you," Enrile added. "Nung nakuha niya yung bola, hindi ako nagduda na kaya niyang i-shoot yun."
Here's the shot from another angle:
A lot of fans who first saw this video from Instagram agreed that he should be given a chance to write the final chapter of his colorful career in the PBA.
"PBA comeback please!" says basketball fan Romell, who goes by the Twitter handle @rjfdr07.
Another fan, ELI tweeted: "Pwde pa ulit pang PBA. Bakit di pa kasu kunin ng Blackwater or ng Kia c miller malaki maiitul0ng nya sa mga ro0kies ng new teams!"
Miller, however, said he is starting to lose hope on a comeback especially after a traumatic experience where he was dropped from the roster by Barako Bull Energy, just days before the current conference started.
"Hindi ko alam. Siguro kung darating, darating yan (PBA return). Mahirap umasa eh," said the ever jolly cager. "Saka matanda na ko. Masakit na likod ko. Pero wala naman na akong pakialam sa kanila."
Turning serious, Miller claimed that he has never stopped keeping himself in top shape, in case a call comes.
"Hindi naman tayo nagpapabaya (ng katawan) eh. Sabi nila, 'Mataba-taba eh'. Wala pa namang sumasakit (sa katawan ko). Wala naman akong injury. Di pa naman ako masyadong napapagod. Kaya pa naman siguro," he said.
And does he think he still deserves a spot in the PBA?.
"Oo naman. Nabigyan pa tayo ng Top 40 (PBA greatest players slot). Tapos yung (ibang) kasama ko sa top 40, naglalaro. Ako hindi? Siguro pwede. Pero okay lang kung wala. Basketball naman, andaming basketball eh."
Asked if he wanted to prove something in his performance with Siargao, Miller said: "Wala naman akong gustong patunayan. Gusto ko lang mag-champion na kasi dalawang beses na ring nabibigo sa finals ang team na ito."
"Sabi niya, 'Gusto na niyang mag champion. Kaya 'yun naman ang pilit kong ginawa para sa team," he said.
But when shown about the positive comments from fans on the video posted by Spin.ph, Miller seemed to have been touched.
"Pero natutuwa ako kasi nakikita at nababasa ko rin mga message sa akin ng fans. Sa Twitter, Facebook at Instagram, yan din naman rason kaya masaya ko maglaro sa mga ligang barangay ngayon. Nakakasama ko mga tao, nakakasalamuha ko sila," he said.
"Natutuwa ako kasi napapasaya ko sila at nakakakita sila ng bagong alis sa PBA na naglalaro sa harap nila," he said before cracking up loud.
But for Miller's 10-year old son Dre, his dad still is one of the best guards in the country today.
"He's still way up there. And my dad is not yet old," said the the younger Miller, who himself is now a star player of his school Collegio De San Agustin in Makati.
And Siargao team owner Luego agrees.
"Yeah. Pwede pa si Willie sa PBA. Pagtiwalaan mo lang kakayahan nya, maniwala ka lang sa kanya, he can bring you victories. Pinatunayan niya yun whenever he makes crucial baskets for our team," said the soft-spoken businessman.
"'Yun game lang ngayon, we won it because of his epic buzzer beating three pointer. That was simply amazing. Unbelievable," he added.
"Sana makatulong ito (stint niya sa min). Sana makita ng mga team owners at coaches na pwedeng pwede at PBA material pa rin si Willie."