ANTIPOLO – RK Ilagan is from Tondo but Ynares Center feels like his home floor.
On Friday, Ilagan once again delivered when it mattered most, helping Converge bag its first victory in franchise history with an 89-82 overtime victory over Magnolia Chicken Timplados.
The shot came nearly four months after Ilagan made the biggest shot of his rookie year in the PBA where he drained the game-winning three in Alaska's 94-93 win over Meralco last February 26, also at the Ynares Center.
Converge coach Jeff Cariaso admitted that game was also in his mind in his decision to give Ilagan the ball.
“When you are proven that you can hit the big shot, you have to keep going to him,” said Cariaso. “The second time around, it was easy for me. I kinda wish maybe we would have given the opportunity last game also.”
“But RK is clutch. He has a big heart. He prepares well. He is a wonderful teammate. I can’t not think anymore of him,” said Cariaso.
The former San Sebastian guard was quick to brush off his second clutch shot at Ynares Center, saying, “Nagkataon lang po.”
“Siguro naisip ko rin ‘yung against Meralco so dagdag confidence sa sarili ko,” Ilagan added.
Ilagan finished with 14 points, equalling his career-high he set last March 6 against Magnolia.
The game-tying shot was exactly the momentum shift Converge needed as Ilagan opened overtime with another three to start a 7-0 finish by the FiberXers.
Ilagan also thanked Cariaso for the confidence to give him the last shot of regulation.
“Sobrang grateful ako sa coach ko. Hindi niya ako nagamit nung late pero sumugal pa rin si coach Jeff sa akin. ‘Yung trust na binigay na sa akin, sobrang kailangan kong suklian,” he added.
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