PBA: Hard work now pay­ing off for un­drafted Pa­ni­amo­gan

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SHOW! -

PThe 6-foot guard was not picked in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft, but nev­er­the­less earned a con­tract with Glob­alPort last year. He only played nine games for the Batang Pier, how­ever, and bounced around the PBA D-League for a while be­fore sign­ing with Mahi ndr a.

His stint with the Flood­buster was a quiet one en­ter­ing Wed­nes­day's PBA Philip­pine Cup game agai n st M er al co. Pa­ni­amo­gan scored in dou­ble-dig­its against Rain or Shine and Phoenix early in the con­fer­ence, but had scored a com­bined four points in their past three con­tests. He was av­er­ag­ing only 4.8 points per game.

Pa­ni­amo­gan's time to shine came against the Bolts. With Mahin­dra seek­ing a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive vic­tory, the for­mer JRU guard elec­tri­fied Mer­alco, com­ing off the bench to fire six three-point­ers – in the first half.

He fin­ished the game with 25 points, mak­ing seven of his nine at­tempts from be­yond the arc. Pa­ni­amo­gan's hot hand rubbed off on his team­mates: Mahin­dra shot a blis­ter­ing 21-of47 from the three-point area in a 105-92 vic­tory.

"Sabi kasi ni coach sa amin, kung sino 'yung mainit sa amin, su­por­ta­han namin," Pa­ni­amo­gan said after the game. "Kaya noong pagka-shoot ko noong last three-points, si­n­unod-sunod ko na."

"Sabi nila, tu­mira eh," he added, grin­ning. "So may lisen­sya na ako. Kaya ayun – tinira ko na­man, shumu-shoot."

Mahin­dra coach Chris Gav­ina was not surp r i sed to see Pa­ni­amo­gan wax hot against the Bolts. In fact, he ex­pected it even though the player had been score­less in their pre­vi­ous game.

"I re­ally saw it com­ing from Christmas Day," Gav­ina said. "Even dur­ing the break, he was one of those guys that was ask­ing me to keep work­ing."

"He just does what you want him to do," he added. "He's some­body who ac­cepts his role, and when he's called upon, he's ready to ex­cel now."

Pa­ni­amo­gan read­ily cred­ited his coaches and team­mates for his per­for­mance. "Binibi­gyan nila ako ng good screens, kaya nalili­bre rin ta­laga," he said. "Sa mga coach, sa man­age­ment, sobr ang pasala­mat ko sa kanila."

For Pa­ni­amo­gan, his game against Mer­alco was a tes­ta­ment to his hard work and per­se­ver­ance, even as he admitted that it was tough for him to find him­self mov­ing in and out of the league.

"Nag-Global ako, tapos ba­lik na na­man sa DLeague," he said.

"Pero sabi ko, wala na­mang mawawala ka­pag nagsikap eh," he also said. "Kaya noong tinawa­gan ako, ayun, bini­gay ko la­hat ng best ko, kung ano ang maitu­tu­long. Buti na­man, nagka­roon sila ng ti­wala sa akin, da­han­da­han."

"'Di na­man ako nawalan ng pag-asa," Pa­ni­amo­gan added. "Dasal lang ta­laga ang pan­la­ban ko."

He is re­luc­tant to say if he can repli­cate his ex­plo­sive shoot­ing in fu­ture con­tests, in­stead stress­ing that they will fol­low Gav­ina's game plan in­stead.

"'Di ko masasabi sa next game. 'Di ko na­man madikta na sa akin la­hat," he said. "Noong nag-init sina Mike (Di­Gre­go­rio) at (Ja­son) Deutch­mann, doon kami."

"As of now, ako 'yung nag-init, so thank­ful ako na nagti­wala sila sa akin."

Mahin­dra's Philip Pa­ni­amo­gan scored 25 points against Mer­alco.

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