TNT in full support of Smith as he plays through pain, awaits birth of daughter
MANILA, Philippines – TNT KaTropa fully understands, and more importantly appreciates, the sacrifice tenacious import Josh Smith is making in pursuit of the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup title.
So much so that players honored him and his budding family with a kind gesture of wearing patches over their jerseys bearing the name of Smith's girlfriend Kristy Ochoa, who is due to give birth in the next 24 hours.
On top of potentially missing his daughter's birth – with the best-of-7 finals tied at two games apiece – Smith has also been weathering a foot injury since the semifinals, opting to play through pain instead of giving up his spot to back-up import Mike Myers, who's already on hand serving as his practice buddy.
"It’s a rallying point because first of all, Josh has been playing hurt. I know he’s got some improvements already, but the second thing is that she’s giving birth," said coach Nash Racela after the team's 102-97 Game 4 victory over the San Miguel Beermen on Wednesday, June 28.
"If you are hurt, you could use that as an excuse to go home so that you’ll be there beside your girlfriend giving birth, but he chose to stay here and play in the finals and work for the championship. We just want to honor Joshua and his girlfriend."
The 25-year-old provided toughness down the stretch and bullied his way inside the paint in Game 4 for his 20 points and 15 rebounds. TNT also outscored San Miguel by 10 when Smith was on the floor.
"I’m feeling a lot better that we won, but I’ll try to get some rest and be ready for (Friday)," a beaming Smith told reporters. "The way I look at it, there’s two more games with a chance to 3 and I’ll have a chance to relax and be a dad. I might as well give it all I can."
Smith already appeared very excited about his impending fatherhood as he was quite taken with teammate Troy Rosario's own dark-haired newborn daughter during media interviews.
"Be ready," Rosario playfully warned Smith about having a daughter.
There will at least be a Game 6 in this series so far, which would mean Smith is likely not headed home any time soon.
"They know what I’m sacrificing outside of my foot, the birth of my daughter. It probably won’t hit me until she’s actually out. She’s due tomorrow," he shared how he and his girlfriend haven't even decided on a name yet.
"I really have a lot to say. I’m happy, anxious, nervous. I want to see what this baby looks like. We’re still playing with a lot of names, with 3. Once she’s out, we’ll go from there." – Rappler.com