PBA: RK Ilagan repays gamble for Converge
MANILA, Philippines–RK Ilagan looked like he was playing in his natural habitat against a powerhouse club Friday night.
The Converge playmaker drilled a triple with 3.6 ticks remaining to knot the game at 82-all and send the duel against Magnolia into overtime at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Ilagan then made big plays in the extra period, ultimately willing the franchise to its maiden win in the PBA.
“I’m thankful that coach Jeff (Cariaso) took a gamble on me,” said Ilagan. “He gave me his trust, so I just had to repay him.”
He finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and a pair of steals.
Ilagan’s heroics that night was reminiscent of the outing he had back in February where as a member of the farewelling Alaska Aces, the pint-sized guard hit a jumper over Bong Quinto and the Meralco Bolts to win the game.
That extraordinary moment also transpired at the decades-old hilltop arena.
“I think it was just a coincidence,” Ilagan said with a smile. “Though I was thinking about it, and perhaps it added to my confidence.”
Cariaso, however, felt Ilagan was his best option to cap a feisty fightback from being down by as many as 20 points.
“When you’ve proven that you can hit the big shot, you have to keep going. So the second time around, it was easy for me,” the Converge mentor said.
“RK is clutch. He has a big heart. He prepares well. He’s a wonderful teammate. And you can’t ask anything more from him.”
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