PBA Philippine Cup

Given shot to save NLEX, Calvin Oftana delivers

Delfin Dioquino
Given shot to save NLEX, Calvin Oftana delivers

CLUTCH Calvin Oftana makes up for his late blunders with the biggest play of the game.

PBA Images

Rookie Calvin Oftana drains the game-winner as NLEX drags twice-to-beat Meralco to a do-or-die quarterfinal match in the PBA Philippine Cup

NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao has nothing more to ask from Calvin Oftana.

Guiao beamed with pride after the rookie saved NLEX from elimination with the game-winner in their 81-80 victory over Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, September 29.

The No. 3 overall pick capped off his 12-point, 9-rebound, 5-assist, and 2-steal performance with a go-ahead layup with 6.1 ticks left as NLEX dragged twice-to-beat Meralco to a do-or-die match.

It was a clutch shot from Oftana that atoned for his earlier blunders after he missed a crucial three-pointer and allowed Bong Quinto to haul down what could have been a costly offensive rebound in the final 40 seconds.

“He made a couple of mistakes and defensive lapses in the endgame, but he made up for it with that shot. And that’s the way rookies are developed, that’s the way rookies mature,” said Guiao.

“Despite his lapses and misjudgments on defense, he came out and gave us the winning basket. So what more can you ask for?”

Guiao said Oftana earned the opportunity to win the game for NLEX following his breakout performance in their final elimination-round game against, interestingly, Meralco.

The former NCAA MVP hit 8 three-pointers and finished with a career-high 34 points, although his effort fell short as Meralco hacked out a 104-101 win.

Oftana would not be denied this time.

“I know he’s being schemed already, teams are already making plans how to defend him,” Guiao said of Oftana.

“Actually we talked last night, I told him, ‘You’re probably not going to score 34 points but there are other ways of winning’ and he showed that tonight.”

Guiao added Oftana rose to the occasion wherein NLEX usually expects star guard Kiefer Ravena to deliver.

Ravena is currently in Japan, set to play for the Shiga Lakestars in the B.League for an entire season.

“Actually that last play, if we had Kiefer with us, that would have been for Kiefer, but [Calvin] stepped into the shoes of Kiefer and he’s done excellently so far,” Guiao said.

“[H]e’s a very special player and we’re very lucky we were able to draft him.” – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.