PBA D-League: Acuña shrugs off pressure to nail game winner
When Tanduay needed a clutch hero in its do-or-die game against UP, a scrawny shooter stepped up to the plate.
Down 66-65 with seven seconds remaining, Val Acuña found himself open at the top of the key and with a flick he shot the triple that would force their series against University of the Philippines QRS to a third game.
Acuña and company left Ynares Sports Arena with a 68-66 victory and head coach Lawrence Chongson was thankful for his 29-year-old veteran for pushing himself to do better.
“Ang sama ng first half niya at kung ang sama ng second half niya, naglaro pa siya di ba?” Chongson said. “Sinuklian niya confidence at trust na binigay ko sa kanya kaya I stuck with him.”
Acuña finished with nine points but his first half only saw him score once from the free throw line and none from the field.
“Sobrang sama nung first half namin pero kinausap naman kami ni coach na kung talo kami sama sama kami at kung panalo naman eh sama sama pa rin,” Acuñ said. “At nagising kami, wala naman kaming masasabi kay coach na puro motivation at puro positive lang ang sinasabi.”
Acuña, who played four years in the PBA including the year when the San Mig Coffee Mixers won the Grand Slam, is familiar with pressure but with the last shot given to him by Chongson he knew he had to deliver.
“Sabi niya kung kaya kong i-drive, drive kung open tira,” Acuña said. “Laki ng pressure sa akin.”