MANILA, Philippines – At 37 years old, Cyrus Baguio's role at NLEX is primarily to provide leadership and mentoring. But during the Road Warriors' maiden semifinal game, the man famously known as "Skyrus" showed up.
Baguio flashed his vintage form by scoring a team-high 17 points on top of 5 rebounds and 4 steals in NLEX's 88-87 Game 1 win over the Magnolia Hotshots in their best-of-7 semifinals series Saturday, March 10.
In a game that saw top guns Kevin Alas and JR Quinahan combine for a dismal 2-of-20 shooting, Baguio was a model of efficiency by draining 5 of his 6 shot attempts, including a perfect 2-of-2 clip from downtown. He also buried all of his 5 freebies.
It has been so long since Baguio had a performance like he did against the Hotshots that teammate Kiefer Ravena went down memory lane reminiscing Baguio's heydays with the Barako Bull and the Alaska Aces.
"Kevin wasn't his usual self, Kuya JR, surprisingly, [it is the] first time I saw him shoot like this and Alex. Kuya Cyrus stepped up big time. It's nice to see Cyrus – vintage No Fear headband Cyrus Baguio 'yung naglalaro kanina (was the one who played earlier)," said Ravena.
But Baguio was quick to shrug off his performance, saying he just capitalized on Hotshots' full attention on Alas and Ravena.
"Nagkataon lang," said Baguio.
"Nag-aabang lang ako kanina, binabasa ko lang talaga 'yung depensa. May mga opening e, buti na lang pumapasok 'yung mga tira ko kanina."
(It just happened that I hit my shots. I was just waiting and reading the defense. There were openings and fortunately, my shots were falling.)
Against a Magnolia team that the Road Warriors have lost to 4 times in their last 5 matchups, Baguio knows it is important for NLEX to draw first blood.
"Mahaba itong series. Alam ko gagamitin pa rin ni coach 'yung mga halos lahat ng mga players. So expect mo pa na lalalim pa 'yung rotation sa next games namin."
(This series is long. I know coach will still field almost all of the players so you can expect that our rotation will go deep in the next games.)
Game 2 will be held on Monday, March 12, 7 pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.