PBA Philippine Cup

Gutsy Cabagnot thankful for trust despite lack of practice post-injury

JR Isaga
Gutsy Cabagnot thankful for trust despite lack of practice post-injury

CLUTCH. Alex Cabagnot hits the biggest shot of the night.

PBA Images

As if he didn’t come off a knee injury, Alex Cabagnot delivers the fun, swagger, and the game-winner

After all these years, Alex Cabagnot never ceases to amaze on a basketball court.

In his first game for San Miguel in nearly two months, the wily 38-year-old in just 22 minutes of play erupted for a game-high 20 points, none more important than his contested game-winning jumper over the stunned NorthPort defenses for the 88-87 escape.

As if he didn’t come fresh off a knee injury rehab, Cabagnot made every single second of his playing time count, and stayed composed for the endgame even after Robert Bolick drilled a near-half court go-ahead triple a la Damian Lillard with just 4.5 seconds left.

When the dust settled after their heart-stopping best-of-three quarterfinals opener, the steady veteran simply thanked his coaches for the opportunity immediately given to him despite the Beermen already boasting an oversupply of available talent.

“I just wanna give thanks to coach Leo (Austria). I just got in last night. He could have easily, you know, not played me today because of all of what’s going on, [and] I haven’t practiced. But he gave me the trust and he even left me out there,” he said.

“Obviously, I had apprehensions with it because I haven’t adjusted with coach. But you know, in true fashion like a great coach, he just gave me full confidence, and my apprehensions went away, and I just started having fun.”

Fun was surely the operative word for Cabagnot in his Pampanga debut as he quickly acclimated to Austria’s system with undeniable swagger, highlighted by a Steph Curry-like, no-look three in the midst of a personal 9-2 run midway through the third quarter.

Eventually, these short bursts of playing time on the court paid huge dividends for San Miguel in the end, as NorthPort refused to get rolled over even after going down  by as many as 13 points, 63-50, late in the third frame.

In the end, Austria knew his trust would not be misplaced as he had been in constant communication while the conference moved along without Cabagnot.

He knew that the moment his on-court leader got back in the rotation, he was ready. Sure enough, Cabagnot delivered.

“I know for a fact that he kept his conditioning up because he is professional. He knows what to do,” Austria said.

“Once he gets on the court, no more adjustments are needed for him because he already knows how the system runs for the past five years, so he adapted quickly. No matter what you do, he can always adapt to the situation.” – Rappler.com