ATENEO's Ryan Buenafe had long hoped to recapture the form that made him one of the most feared gunners in the college leagues two seasons ago.
He took a giant step in that direction on Saturday, hitting a career-high 24 points as the Blue Eagles beat La Salle, 77-67, to complete a sweep of the arch-rivals' meetings in the UAAP elimination round this season.
“Yung pangalan ko kasi nawala, kaya kailangan magpakita,” said Buenafe, the UAAP Finals MVP two years ago who sat out last year due to several issues, including a continuing battle with weight problems.
The Buenafe who showed up for Saturday's marquee match still looked several pounds away from his fighting weight, but there was no doubt that the deadly shooting touch was there.
He scored nine points right in the first quarter to help the Eagles take command and his consistent sniping helped keep the Archers at bay the rest of the way.
The standout performance earned the comebacking forward the UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week award, the citation given by sports scribes covering the collegiate beat and ACCEL 3XVI.
Buenafe edged other top performers for the honor, including University of Santo Tomas' Jeric Teng, Far Eastern University guard RR Garcia and University of the East's Chris Javier.
Buenafe actually was all fired up to play his best during the Eagles' previous win against Far Eastern University, but got ejected in the first quarter after a scuffle.
“Last game pa ako ganado maglaro kasi malaki ang kumpiyansa ni coach [Norman Black] sa akin. Gusto ko talagang bumawi ngayon kaya kinontrol ko sarili ko,” said Buenafe, a former NCAA juniors MVP with San Sebastian.
After Saturday's win, there is no doubt Buenafe will be very much a part of Black's battle plan as the Eagles chase a fifth successive title.