MPBL: All-star game or not, Jeff Viernes keeps competitive fire burning

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2020 11:53 PM

Batangas-Tanduay guard and MPBL all-star game MVP Jeff Viernes refuses to slack off when he is on the basketball court. Handout

Batangas-Tanduay guard and MPBL all-star game MVP Jeff Viernes refuses to slack off when he is on the basketball court. Handout

For most players, an all-star game is an avenue to take a break from being competitive and build a bond between the league’s best players.

But that isn’t the case for Batangas-Tanduay’s Jeff Viernes.

“Sabi ko nga, mental focus ko every time na naglalaro ako, all-star man ’yan o every game, tini-treat ko siya the same. I'm a very competitive player. Ginagawa ko lang lahat, ’yung best ko,” Viernes revealed.

And Viernes’ fierce approach to the game showed when his South all-star squad was on the brink of defeat against the North side in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup All-Star game at MoA Arena Thursday.

Down by six points with 3:15 remaining in regulation, the pint-sized guard from Isabela pumped in 12 of the South’s last 15 points, including two crucial free throws, which sent the game to overtime.

Viernes then conspired with Gab Banal to open the extra period with a 10-0 barrage to give the South a comfortable 122-112 advantage with 3:19 ticks left.

Though the North side’s Renato Ular, Michael Juico, Aris Dionisio, and Jeric Teng were able to answer with 10-0 blast and knot the score at 122-all, Viernes, a product of Saint Clare, sank 4-of-4 free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory.

“Siyempre nandoon pa rin ’yung we’re having fun kasi all-star pa rin ’yun. Pero syempre may sari-sarili kaming pride pa rin. Kahit sabihin mong all-star, gusto naming ibigay namin ang best namin at bigyan ng magandang show ’yung fans,” shared Viernes, who also pocketed P50,000 courtesy of Sen. Manny Pacquiao for his efforts.

“I think nagawa naman namin both, nag-enjoy kami at nabigyan namin ’yung fans ng sobrang gandang laban, very intense. Siguro wala na kaming hihilingin pa, nakuha namin yung panalo. Very fortunate lang and we're very thankful.”

When the dust settled, Viernes collected 28 points, six assists, and six rebounds and took home his second consecutive all-star game most valuable player award.

“ ’Yung back-to-back MVP, bonus na lang din,” said Viernes. “Nag-usap usap kami sa dugout and we all want to win. I think kaya din maganda ang chemistry namin kahit second time kami magkakasama, ’yung una all-star last year. Maganda. Happy kami."

South head coach Don Dulay could not agree.

“One thing I noticed, we had a lot more fun on the bench. Everybody on the bench, the whole second half, we're cheering who’s on the court,” Dulay said.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.