MANILA, Philippines -- After a rollercoaster start to his stint for ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup, veteran guard Reed Juntilla is finding his groove at the perfect time.
The 36-year-old has been averaging 22.67 points and 7.67 rebounds per game in the Heroes' past three games, where they escaped elimination against Bohol, Dumaguete, and KCS-Mandaue.
His motivation is simple -- for the team, there is no tomorrow.
"Wala nang bukas kasi. Kailangan kong i-embrace 'yung challenge na binigay sa akin," the native of Carmen, Cebu said.
Juntilla's performances are notable after he was embroiled in controversy earlier in the season. He was one of the six players that were handed a first-round suspension by the league stemming from Lapu-Lapu's controversial game against Siquijor last April 14.
When they returned, the Heroes had been zapped of momentum and went 2-3 in the second round.
"Struggle talaga kami kasi may problema kami na pinagdaanan, 'di ba? Hindi ko in-expect 'yun, lalo na 'yung talo naman sa Tabogon," said Juntilla, recalling their 73-76 loss to the Voyagers last April 22.
"Ang maganda dun, hindi kami nawalan ng pag-asa. Kailangan talaga naming mag-focus at mag-step up," he added.
A veteran of several commercial leagues, Juntilla took it upon himself to lift not just the spirits of his teammates, but also his team on the court.
"Ako magte-take charge dito sa team at shine-share ko 'yung experience ko sa laro. Kailangan din talagang i-push 'yung teammates ko at ilabas 'yung puso sa laro," he said.
On Tuesday, Juntilla had 19 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block to carry his side to a 67-52 win over KCS-Mandaue, a team they had not beaten during the elimination round.
Despite the mileage he already has in his legs, Juntilla stressed that he still has something left for their win-or-go-home game against the same team on Wednesday.
"Kaya pa, laban pa," he guaranteed. "Kundisyon pa kaming lahat."