OVER THE WHAT?
KERBY Raymundo is far from being a has-been, as what some may contend.
The 32-year-old proved this by flashing his old lethal form now that Barangay Ginebra needs it most in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup to earn for himself the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the extended period April 22 to 29.
The 6-6 forward played a big role in the Kings’ semifinals seat-clinching win over Rain or Shine and continued doing so in the perennial crowd darlings’ Final Four duel with another favorite, Talk N Text.
As proof, Raymundo’s averages have seen a steady climb from just 7.33 points and 4.5 rebounds in the eliminations to 13.5 and 7.5 in the quarterfinals and 15.5 and 8.0 in the semis.
Being the most experienced among Ginebra’s big men due to the sidelining of Billy Mamaril, Rudy Hatfield and Rico Maierhofer to injuries, Raymundo also saw his minutes rise from 14.3 in the eliminations to 29.5 in the quarters and 34 in the semis.
Those sterling efforts drew the most praise from coach Alfrancis Chua. “Mayroon diyang nagsasabing over the hill na si Kerby, pero ipinapakita niyang far from over siya,” the mentor said Chua.
“He is proving Kerby is still Kerby and I’m very happy for him.”
Chua himself offered an explanation why some corners may think the man who entered the league as a 19-year-old in 2000 and joined Ginebra from Purefoods/B-Meg midway last season is all washed up.
“Nagkasakit lang siya and then iniinda niya hamstring kaya hindi siya masyadong naglaro nu’ng eliminations,” related the pony-tailed tactician, who has also been missing the services of reigning MVP Mark Caguioa.
“Pero may tiwala ako sa tao, kasi napakasipag sa practice, no let-up. If you will also notice, team player siya. Pero ngayong kailangan namin ang go-to guy nandiyan siya. Points, rebounds, depensa ibinibigay niya. In other words, iyung tiwala sa kanya, sinusuklian niya.”
Raymundo displayed that most against Rain or Shine, the No. 2 seed with a win-once advantage against seventh-ranked Ginebra in the quarterfinals. But topple the Elasto Painters the Kings did with Raymundo notching 13 points and 11 rebounds in a decisive 81-79 win last April 22.
The Bataan native’s momentum spilled over into the semis, evidenced by his 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 104-81 win in the opener of the best-of-five semis duel against TNT followed by his 17 points and seven boards in a 79-85 loss last Sunday.
Caguioa, Mamaril and Hatfield are expected to be back when the series resumes May 8 and with the way Raymundo has been playing of late Ginebra’s hopes are sure to be fanned even further. (NC)
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