Batangas may have lost the battle, but for coach Eric Gonzales, his team didn’t entirely lose the war.
The soft-spoken mentor was glad with the way his team fought in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation cup, even branding the campaign as an “overachievement.”
“For me, us reaching the quarterfinals is a bonus,” said Gonzales in Filipino after the Batangueños exited the tournament in an 81-74 defeat to CEU on Thursday. “We dealt with a lot of things, especially losing Joseph Sedurifa. We got reinforcements, but we didn’t have enough time to build that chemistry.”
Batangas had to scamper for a replacement as it hoped to fill the shoes left by the Meralco-bound Sedurifa, who was the team’s leading scorer for the whole conference.
Out of desperation, the team signed up Robby Celiz, Michole Sorela, and Leo Avenido from the eliminated teams, while acquiring Joseph Gabayni and Jebb Bulawan from the free agent pool.
However, with just one day to prepare, the chemistry which helped the Batangueños finish the eliminations with a 6-4 slate didn’t live up to par resulting in the early exit.
Still, Gonzales was all smiles as he reflected on the jump his side had following a disappointing maiden campaign in the 2017 Foundation Cup, where at 4-5, Batangas just missed out on advancing to the playoffs.
“Nevertheless, I’m happy with what we were able to come up with, especially to those who played in a competitive setting in the first time. I thank God for what the team has achieved.”
Adding to Gonzales’ elation was the emergence of Cedric de Joya, who showed tremendous potential despite his size.
“Our bunso (little brother) stepped up,” he said. “But it can’t go any further than that. We still need strong supporting role players.”
With the foundation already laid out, Gonzales could only wonder what the future holds for the Batangueños.
That is, if they decide to give the PBA D-League another go next season.
“It’s up to boss,” Gonzales pointed to team manager Atty. Ruel Camobas. “I know boss is passionate and he’s happy with what the team has achieved. I’ll just do the coaching here.”