NLEX coach Yeng Guiao has always seen Calvin Oftana as a special player.
But even the fiery mentor did not expect his prized ward to play like a man on a mission after the No. 3 pick made PBA history for most three-pointers in a game by a rookie.
Oftana sank 8 triples and finished with a career-high 34 points as he almost willed NLEX past Meralco in a narrow 101-104 loss in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, September 22.
The former NCAA MVP broke the previous record of 7 three-pointers in a game set by PBA legend Allan Caidic in 1987.
“We know that he has the potential, he’s got the talent, he’s physically made for the PBA game, but for him to come out that way, that’s above our expectations,” said Guiao in a mix of Filipino and English.
“Having seen that, it only validates our belief that Calvin is a special kind of player. He’s a special player who doesn’t come along very often.”
Guiao pushed the envelope on Oftana by handing him the reins in their comeback attempt.
Oftana did not disappoint as he drained three straight triples in the final two minutes to pull NLEX within a single possession.
Meralco, though, built a lead big enough to withstand his outburst.
“Too bad it was a loss but it still does not take away anything from his performance,” Guiao said. “We set up our plays for him, particularly our endgame plays, and he delivered just like a veteran.”
While Oftana flaunted his offensive prowess, Guiao said his defensive capability might seldom come unnoticed.
“He works both ways,” Guiao said. “Defensively, he’s not bad himself. He’s actually a good defensive player. We’re happy for him.”
“We know we have a special player and we will just continue to give him his confidence,” Guiao added, noting Oftana still has to improve his rebounding and decision-making.
Facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals, the No. 7 seed NLEX needs another big game from Oftana as it shoots for an upset over No. 2 seed Meralco. – Rappler.com