Two years after riding bench, Michael Miranda now keys NLEX's first PBA semis
MANILA, Philippines – What difference a year and a new team made for Michael Miranda.
Miranda scored only 12 points in the entirety of last season's PBA Philippine Cup back when he was still with the Phoenix Fuel Masters. In that conference, he played in 8 games and averaged 4.3 minutes per outing.
A year later, Mike Miranda is already a pivotal cog in NLEX's All-Filipino campaign as he scored 12 points in Game 2 of a historic 87-83 win over the Alaska Aces that propelled the Road Warriors to their first PBA semifinals in franchise history.
The bruising big man made the biggest buckets down the stretch, burying a game-tying triple with less than 3 minutes left in the game and knocking down the go-ahead freebies to jumpstart the Road Warriors' come-from-behind win.
In NLEX's Game 1 triumph, Miranda was also a crucial part of their offense, scoring 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting to go with 3 rebounds.
For NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao, Miranda is an epitome of unheralded players proving themselves when given the opportunity.
"I think Miranda was just a [player with] potential just aching to expose himself if given the chance. He really rewarded the team by making the most out of the chance given to him," said Guiao.
"It's the story of a lot of players, a lot of players languishing on the bench. But when you give them a break, they will step up and prove themselves. That's just an example of Mike Miranda."
Miranda is already in his 3rd year in the PBA. But in his first two seasons as a Fuel Masters, he mostly rode the bench, averaging 6.8 minutes in 39 games played, according to the stats website HumbleBola.
After signing with the Road Warriors in the offseason, the 27-year-old was given a new lease in his young PBA career as he became a staple in Guiao's rotation.
"Dati 'di ako napapansin eh. Sinabi niya (Guiao) nga na binibigyan niya 'ko ng break, syempre kailangan ko suklian 'yung binibigay nilang tiwala dito sa team," said Miranda.
(Before, I was not noticed. Coach Yeng told me that he will give me a break, of course, I want to repay the trust the team is giving me.)
The Road Warriors faces a daunting task in a best-of-7 semifinals series against the Magnolia Hotshots and Miranda isn't letting his heroics hamper him from staying focused.
"Kailangan pa rin namin magtrabaho kasi semis na 'to eh, 'di na basta basta. Work hard pa rin and play hard and we play as a team."
(I still need to work hard since this is already the semis, it is not that easy anymore. Work hard, play hard and we should play as a team.) – Rappler.com