Riding on Asiad success, Oftana gets pushed to bigger role at TNT | Inquirer Sports
THE WEIGHT ON HIS SHOULDERS

Riding on Asiad success, Oftana gets pushed to bigger role at TNT

/ 05:25 AM November 02, 2023

TNT coaching staff willbe asking a lot more from
Gilas Pilipinas ace Calvin
Oftana (No. 15) when
the Commissioner’s Cup
starts. —PBA IMAGES

TNT coaching staff will be asking a lot more from Gilas Pilipinas ace Calvin Oftana (No. 15) when the Commissioner’s Cup starts. —PBA IMAGES

With a memorable and historic Asian Games (Asiad) stint under his belt and a larger role seen amid the absence of several key players, TNT’s Calvin Oftana could be poised for a banner season in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

But Oftana doesn’t want to put pressure on himself in fulfilling expectations even if coach Jojo Lastimosa sees the versatile forward as someone who could be the main man for the Tropang Giga in the upcoming campaign.

“It’s hard to fulfill those expectations. All I want to do is to play within the [system of the] team,” Oftana said in Filipino as TNT looks ahead to Sunday’s Commissioner’s Cup opener against Magnolia at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Oftana was also expected to see some action at presstime as the Tropang Giga hosted Japan’s B.League side Chiba Jets in the East Asia Super League at City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna, and provide a prelude of what he can possibly do come his third season in the big league.

The 27-year-old forward was among the key reasons why Gilas put an end to the country’s long wait for a gold at the Asian Games, stepping on the top of the podium in Hangzhou, China, following a dramatic semifinal win against the host country and winning the final over TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jordan.

Being on perhaps the highest point of his career has made people feel that Oftana may emerge as among the best players during this PBA season, as he could thrive with Mikey Williams still at an impasse with TNT management, RR Pogoy out due to a heart condition and Poy Erram still recovering from a knee operation.

Defense, rebounding

“I don’t want to put a bit of pressure on Calvin, but he will have to carry the load other than Jayson [Castro] and the rest of the guys,” said Lastimosa. “Calvin has a bigger responsibility in terms of scoring in this coming conference and even in the All-Filipino (Philippine Cup) because we don’t know when Roger will come back.

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“But I think he’s capable of doing that, I think he can produce and I think he’s got the skills to be the main guy. So I’m expecting nothing less than for Calvin to show up this conference,” added Lastimosa.

Oftana has shown that he can step up offensively after he averaged 17 points in the 2022 Philippine Cup, his last conference with NLEX under coach Yeng Guiao, before being dealt to TNT in a three-team deal.

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He can also provide some solid defense and rebounding either as a small forward or power forward. And those are things that TNT would need to squeeze out of him to put itself in talks of being a title contender despite the lack of manpower.

“We’re missing our core players with Mikey not around, Roger still dealing with his condition and Poy in the process of recovering from his injury, so I think it’s best for us to play as a team,” said Oftana.

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“We got some good players, we got a good system and we got good coaches and I believe those things will help us a lot.”

TAGS: Calvin Oftana, PBA, TNT Tropang Giga

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