MANILA, Philippines – Getting traded from a perennial playoff contender like TNT to a struggling franchise like Blackwater may seem like a demotion, but it is an opportunity Gab Banal intends to make the most out of.
Banal is delighted to finally get significant playing time again with the Bossing after riding the Tropang Giga bench for the second half of his two-conference run with the team.
The second-generation player put up 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals as Blackwater snapped a seven-game skid with a 97-85 win over Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday, September 24.
“When you have not played that long, you lose your timing and your rhythm. I just had to do a lot of extra work. Fortunately, the coaches and the staff here trust me and let me play,” Banal said in a mix of Filipino and English.
“It felt like I was on a break last conference. But that is life. It is a new opportunity for me. It is all about perspective. I just have to make the most of the opportunity given to me.”
TNT reached the Philippine Cup finals and played a total of 25 games, but Banal saw action in only 11 games.
Moreover, Banal normed just a point and a rebound in six minutes of play, a major drop from his averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in the Governors’ Cup last season.
The rust developed from lack of playing time showed as Banal went scoreless in his Blackwater debut, which ended in a 46-point beatdown at the hands of guest team Bay Area.
But it did not take long for Banal to prove his worth as he delivered all-around numbers against the Fuel Masters to key the Bossing to their first win of the conference.
“I just needed to get my momentum back. It is hard when you’re not playing because you lose your confidence. I’m just blessed and thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to play again,” he said.
“It feels good to play. It is fun.”
Banal, though, acknowledged that minutes are hard to come by when playing for a team like the Tropang Giga, who have one of the most stacked rosters in the league.
“You only play five players on the court. So I understand what happened. But it is better to move on and stay in the present.”
As he settles in with his new squad, Banal sees himself as a do-it-all player who can provide Blackwater with positive results.
“I’m not just a shooter – I can do a lot of different things inside the court, like be a leader, be vocal, help my teammates out, dish assists, be a playmaker, defend, match up with bigger guys or smaller guys,” Banal said.
“I think I fill that void for Blackwater.” – Rappler.com