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Mixed feelings for Espinas after winning PBA title over former team

MANILA, Philippines – Winning his second career PBA title at the expense of his former team Alaska brought mixed feelings for San Miguel Beer forward Gabby Espinas.

Sad ako kasi sila yung kalaban namin pero masaya kasi sa 10-year career ko ito yung second championship ko (I’m sad because our opponent had to be Alaska but I’m also happy because in my 10-year career, this is my second championship),” the energetic back-up said after the Beermen completed a sweep of the Aces, 91-81, on Friday, July 17 to win the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup title. 

The 33-year-old Espinas, who entered the PBA in 2006, had his longest stint with any club with Alaska, lasting 3 years. As a member of the Aces, Espina won his first PBA crown in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, when he and Alaska swept Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-5 series.

Ang kaibahan lang 3 games lang ata namin tinapos yung series na yun against Ginebra, ito apat (The difference is only that we swept Ginebra in 3 games and this series we finished them in 4),” Espinas shared what he thought was the difference between his two titles.

No pain, no gain

While Espinas does not particularly relish beating his former team on the way to a title, the 5th overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Philippine Christian University is not hiding his delight over a fitting comeback from an injury.

Espinas fractured his right ankle in the 2014 Governors’ Cup and had to undergo surgery and rehabilitation to get back into form. Afterwards, he struggled to get back into Alaska’s rotation in this season’s Philippine Cup. 

He was eventually traded to Globalport for Nonoy Baclao in the Commissioner’s Cup, before making his homecoming to San Miguel, the very team that had drafted him years prior. 

Galing ako sa injury diba, hindi ko alam kung dahil doon ako na-trade or nagpalit lang ng sistema yung Alaska (I came from an injury remember, I’m not sure if I was traded because of that or because Alaska changed their system),” the former NCAA MVP explained.

With the Beermen this conference, Espinas found his place as reliever for starter Arwind Santos, providing support off the bench. He chipped in 6 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal in the Beermen’s critical game 3 victory in just 10 minutes of play.

In game 4, he contributed 8 points and two boards, enough to shore up San Miguel’s starters. 

Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach Leo (Austria) kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin,” said Espinas, who has learned to embrace and be proud of his role with the team. 

Sinabi ko naman sa kanya nung una na na hindi naman ako star player e. Mas gusto ko yung role player lang ako.” (I’m thankful to coach Leo because he trusted me. I told him from the start that I am not a star player. I’m happier being the role player.) – Rappler.com