Plagued by injuries, Mike Cortez ‘blessed’ to reach milestone
Meralco guard Mike Cortez had no idea he just reached a milestone during a loss in Game 3 of the Bolts semifinals duel with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Tuesday night.
Cortez became the latest member of the PBA’s 5,000-point club after making a jumper from the top of the key at the 8:23 mark of the fourth quarter.
“Really? I don’t even know that. Wow. Really?” said a surprised Cortez, who was at a loss for words upon knowing what he had just achieved after the Bolts got swept following a 107-98 loss.
“I guess it goes to all the hard work I put in these past 12 years. I thank God that I’m still able to play and compete at a high level. I thank my coaches over the years for believing in me and trusting me.”
The 34-year-old Cortez is the 76th player and 72nd local to score at least 5,000 points, according to the league’s head statistician Fidel Mangonon.
“I didn’t even realize that I’ve reached 5,000 points,” Cortez told INQUIRER.net. “That’s a lot of points for the past 12 years with all the injuries I’ve been through and all the conferences I had missed because of the injuries. I just gotta thank God that I’m still able to play.”
Before being selected as the top overall pick in the 2003 draft, Cortez made a name for himself as a De La Salle Green Archer in the UAAP where he won two championships.
Health was an issue Cortez had to hurdle throughout his professional career which included a season-ending injury at the beginning of the 2006-2007 Philippine Cup.
Cortez, though, proved it would take more than just adversity to hold him down. He helped his former team San Miguel Beermen win the Fiesta Conference title in 2009, a time where he was also named Comeback Player of the Year.
“It all happens so fast. I remember coming into the league and being part of that 2003 draft and playing with guys like Jeff Cariaso and Johnny Abarrientos, Kenneth Duremdes and Marlou Aquino, all those guys and see them reaching milestones here and there, I never thought that I’d be part of that. Just a blessing for me,” Cortez said. CC
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