MANILA, Philippines – TNT rookie Roger Pogoy was admittedly surprised to find himself playing crunch-time minutes for the KaTropa, especially as they were in a tight game against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings on Sunday.
Veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo willed the KaTropa back from a 12-point deficit, and his assist to Kelly Williams with 1:25 left gave TNT a 104-103 lead that they would not relinquish.
Pogoy played a huge role in ensuring that Ginebra would not be able to regain the lead, as he chased LA Tenorio and bothered the crafty point guard enough that Tenorio misfired on a short jumper with 30 seconds left in the game.
"Na-shock ako na ginamit ako noong crucial moments eh," Pogoy admitted after the game. "Sobrang saya ko kasi binibigyan nila ako ng opportunity, at 'di ko naman sasayangin. Gagawin ko 'yung best ko."
He certainly did just that against Tenorio, playing tough but honest defense against the Ginebra guard. Pogoy revealed afterward that he was given the defensive assignment by assistant coach Josh Reyes, and though it was a tough cover, it was a challenge he welcomed.
"Sinabi talaga ni Coach Josh na i-deny ko si LA. Buti naman, nadepensahan ko, pero muntik na rin," he said. "Tine-take ko 'yun as a challenge, kasi parang hanap-buhay na rin ito sa amin. Kung ano ang pinapagawa nila coach, gagawin ko talaga."
However, Pogoy did not stop at making the crucial defensive play on Tenorio. On the other end, he also soared high for an offensive rebound after De Ocampo missed a three-pointer, and was subsequently fouled – by Tenorio.
Pogoy coolly made two free throws to extend TNT's lead to three, 106-103, with just 20.9 seconds left.
"Palaging sinasabi ni Kuya Larry Fonacier na 'pag weak side ako, kailangan ko kumuha ng rebound," Pogoy explained. "Buti naman, nakuha ko 'yung crucial na rebound."
Pogoy finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while adding three rebounds and one steal. He was a team-high +21 at the end of the game, which TNT won 108-103.
The former Far Eastern University (FEU) guard vows to continue working hard for TNT, especially on the defensive end where he is being tasked to focus.
"Sa FEU, kailangan two-way player ako eh," said Pogoy, who helped the Tamaraws win the UAAP title in Season 78. "Dito, mas focused ako sa depensa. Kung malibre sa three-points, i-tira lang dahil marami naman magke-create sa amin."
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