Batangas may be going into the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup playoffs undermanned, but coach Eric Gonzales has found a new reliable cog right in his yard.
With leading scorer Joseph Sedurifa being called up by Meralco in the PBA, Cedric de Joya has emerged as the go-to guy for the Batangueños going into the quarterfinals.
Already showing signs of potential early in the season, the diminutive guard from Calaca, Batangas has come out of nowhere and took the baton to carry Batangas to the next level.
On Thursday, De Joya poured 11 of his 31 points in the final four minutes to rescue his side from an almost humiliating defeat to a confidence-boosting 95-88 conquest of Gamboa Coffee Mix for their sixth win and a ticket to the playoffs.
Gonzales could only feel pride seeing how the 5-foot-6 guard has developed through the course of this endeavor.
“He really has improved a lot. There are a lot of things that we need to improve on as a team, and it’s a good thing that he’s responding to us. He’s trying to maximize our teachings and it shows. The kid is really courageous.”
For De Joya’s part, he knows he has big shoes to fill with Sedurifa’s departure, but noted that it’s not just him who has been filling those gaps.
“Joseph is a huge loss for us, but we try not to lose faith,” he said in Filipino. “Even though we lost our star, we’ll all chip in and help each other out.”
And as the Batangueños advanced to their first postseason appearance in only their second conference in the league, De Joya vows to continue giving his all as he seeks to make the most of this opportunity.
“We have been blessed by this chance, so for me, I’ll try to do all I can for us to win,” he said.
Batangas has a chance to claim the fourth-seed, which comes with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, with a victory over unbeaten top-seed Flying V, or a CEU defeat to Racal Motors on Tuesday.