JAKE Pascual is in no hurry to turn pro.
Named Best Player of the Conference in the just concluded PBA D-League Foundation Cup, Pascual said he’s setting his sights on playing for flag and country first before making himself available for the rookie draft.
The 24-year-old former San Beda stalwart said he won’t pass up the chance to play for the national team shortly after winning the conference’s highest individual plum.
“Hindi ko palalagpasin ‘yung opportunity na makatulong sa bayan,” Pascual said. “Maraming gustong makatulong sa bayan sa pamamagitan ng basketball. Ako, nandyan na, i-ga-grab ko muna, kaya mag-stay muna ako sa Gilas cadet (pool).”
Pascual became the third NLEX player to win the coveted award after Cliff Hodge and Ian Sangalang. He beat out Allan Mangahas of Blackwater Sports, Terrence Romeo of Big Chill, and Maclean Sabellina of Boracay Rum for the honor.
Pascual admits he has been getting a lot of feedback that he is ready to turn pro. However, he still wants to play for the country after being a member of the cadet pool that won the 19th Super Kung Sheung Cup Championship in Hong Kong earlier this year.
“Maraming nagsasabi na puwede na ako mag-PBA. Gusto ko ‘yun, pangarap ko ‘yun pero gusto ko muna i-grab ‘yung opportunity na maglaro for the country,” Pascual said.
Pascual won the Best Player award after averaging 9.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in the eliminations for the Road Warriors, who were swept by Blackwater Sports in the best-of-three finals.
The transfer of Ian Sangalang to EA Regen Medical Group and Greg Slaughter's leave of absence forced the 6-foot-4 Pascual to move out of his natural forward position and play the center spot during much of the campaign.
“Nag-adjust lang ako at nag-click naman. Ready naman ako kahit saan i-lugar ni coach (Boyet Fernandez). Kung ano sabihin ni coach, gagawin ko,” said Pascual.
While he was happy to have won the award, Pascual is also disheartened that it came at a time when the Road Warriors’ string of fourth straight league championships came to a halt.
“Masaya ako. Pero mas masaya sana ako kung nag-champion,” said Pascual.