PBA Philippine Cup

Justin Chua breaking out of his shell with Phoenix

Delfin Dioquino
Justin Chua breaking out of his shell with Phoenix

Justin Chua. Photo from PBA Images

Phoenix big man Justin Chua leads the PBA in blocks as he serves as a key contributor for the Fuel Masters in their return to the playoffs

Justin Chua has certainly come a long way from being a seldom-used player who got traded several times to a key contributor for a playoff team who now leads the PBA in blocked shots.

Chua notched a conference-best 5 blocks as he helped Phoenix book its quarterfinals ticket in the Philippine Cup with a come-from-behind 100-95 win over Blackwater.

The former Ateneo Blue Eagle upped his league-leading average to 1.9 blocks as he also norms 12.4 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Fuel Masters, who ended a two-conference playoff drought.

“What we love about Justin is he is so coachable. He is always going to ask you questions,” said Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson.

“He is not hesitant to try things, to gamble on things, to innovate, in which he is going to make mistakes. But he is receptive and we’re just happy for him. We’re just happy that Justin finally broke out of his shell.”

Chua struggled to make his mark in his first few seasons in the league, which saw him play for 4 different teams in a span of 4 years before he got shipped to the Fuel Masters.

Phoenix happened to be a perfect fit for Chua, who has turned his career around in his 3 years with the team.

A proof of that was Chua being tabbed to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers earlier this year.

“We just told him, ‘You’ve been in this league for a while. You’ve been to 5 teams already. This is the best time for you to make yourself valuable,'” Robinson said of Chua.

“That is the most important thing for him and he embraced it,” Robinson added. – Rappler.com

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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.