Cañaleta provides veteran lift, hot shooting for Meralco
Niño Cañaleta admits that he was truly motivated when Meralco opened its 2018 PBA Philippine Cup campaign on Friday.
That motivation, however, has noting to do with his new team facing his former club Blackwater.
“Every game, you have to be motivated. It just so happened that we faced my former team. But there’s no revenge angle or whatever,” he reiterated in Filipino.
Seeking redemption or not, the 35-year-old forward looked like a man on a mission when he took the court for the Bolts, punishing the Elite as he led the charge in a 103-98 victory.
The former UE stalwart torched the net as he went 5-of-8 from threes, with his gutsiest long bomb coming off the glass with 11.3 seconds remaining to put the game away for Meralco, 101-95. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the win.
But for Cañaleta, he attributed his good showing to his extensive plans coming to this season, saying, “We had a good preparation. I adjusted well with this new team and I didn’t have much difficulty because they were very supportive. They’ve been encouraging me to perform at my best and that’s the reason why I’m really confident playing for Meralco.”
It also helps that he’s playing for coach Norman Black, the same mentor he had briefly in 2014.
Cañaleta’s explosion couldn’t have come at a right time, especially with the Bolts starting the new season without Ranidel de Ocampo and Cliff Hodge, both of whom are dealing with injuries.
Still, the Tarlac native knows what he brings to the table for Meralco and he’s willing to hold the fort for his new squad as the Bolts go through this tough stretch without their usual starting forwards.
“I’ve been in this league for so long and I know that I don’t need to rush anything. All you need to do is to be calm and control your emotions. It’s only then when you’ll be able to do what you need to do on the court,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.