REED Juntilla's pro career has been a huge what-if. But now at 36 years old, he is proving that it's never too late.
In the last three do-or-die games of ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu, Juntilla has been averaging 22.67 points and 7.67 rebounds as the Heroes escaped the clutches of elimination against Tubigon Bohol, Dumaguete, and KCS-Mandaue.
His motivation though is direct to the point -- there is no tomorrow.
"Wala ng bukas kasi. Kailangan ko embrace 'yung challenge na binigay sa akin," the native of Carmen, Cebu said.
Juntilla was one of the six players that were handed a first-round suspension by the league stemming from Lapu-Lapu's controversial game against Siquijor last April 14.
But when they returned, the Heroes could not get any momentum started, going 2-3 in the second round.
"Struggle talaga kami kasi may problema kami na pinagdaanan 'di ba? Hindi ko inexpect yun, lalo na yung talo naman sa Tabogon," the 6-foot-2 combo guard recalled about their stunning 73-76 loss to the Voyagers last April 22.
"Ang maganda dun, hindi kami nawalan ng pag-asa. Kailangan talaga namin mag-focus at mag-step up."
Having experienced everything there is in basketball, Juntilla took it upon himself to not just lift not just the spirits of his teammates but also his team on the court.
"Ako magtetake charge dito sa team at shineshare ko yung experience ko sa laro. Kailangan din talaga i-push yung teammates ko at ilabas yung puso sa laro," he said.
Tuesday evening, Juntilla had 19 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block to carry his side to a 67-52 win over KCS-Mandaue, a team they had not beaten during the elimination round.
Despite the mileage he already has in his legs, Juntilla stressed that he still has something left for their win-or-go-home game against the same team on Wednesday.
"Kaya pa! Laban pa! Kondisyon pa kaming lahat."
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