On a quest: In spite of loss, John Cantimbuhan shines for Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC

ABS-CBN Sports on Jul 09, 2019 02:03 PM
In spite of loss, John Cantimbuhan shines for Imus Bandera
"Lagi ko lang nire-ready yung sarili ko and confidence lang. Hindi ko nilalagyan ng pressure ang sarili ko sa kunwari, sino ang mga kapalitan ko, kapuwestuhan ko; nagre-ready lang talaga ako." - John Cantimbuhan
The Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC's (1-3) gallant comeback attempt from 16 points down against the Bicol Volcanoes (3-2) in the 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup fell short on Monday at the Cuneta Astrodome as the team lost, 78-81 in a heated overtime battle.

But one of the bright spots in the loss was the emergence of John "Puroy" Cantimbuhan, a proud homegrown Caviteño playmaker who sparked the Bandera's fight back and gave Bicol a huge scare.

A 22-year-old guard out of the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, Cantimbuhan stepped up in the absence of Gerald Anderson, and played the highest minutes in his young MPBL career, most coming in clutch time when the game was still undecided.

Cantimbuhan finished with 12 points on a perfect shooting night (4/4 FGs, 4/4 FTs) and added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Under pressure, he calmly sank 2 free throws in the final 5.8 seconds of regulation which tied the game at 72-all and eventually forced overtime.

After the game, Cantimbuhan himself said he was surprised to have played more than 25 minutes, but was grateful for the opportunity to showcase a glimpse of his repertoire.

"Lagi lang akong ready kahit off the bench ako. Hindi ko inaasahang gagamitin ako pero gusto ko rin makatulong sa team. Kahit ako yung bata dito, dapat magawa ko rin yung system na ginagawa ng Imus," said Cantimbuhan. "Lagi ko lang nire-ready yung sarili ko and confidence lang. Hindi ko nilalagyan ng pressure ang sarili ko sa kunwari, sino ang mga kapalitan ko, kapuwestuhan ko; nagre-ready lang talaga ako."

No less than veteran teammate Jayjay Helterbrand praised Cantimbuhan, saying he was one of the key reasons Imus was able to recover and come back in the intense game.

"He played really good. He had a good game. He led the team for us, made a lot of good decisions, good plays, siya yung malaking reason kaya we got back into the game, actually," said Helterbrand.

"His energy on defense, even on offense as well. Ganoon ang effort na kailangan namin going forward into the season. He played really solid. I am very proud of John."

The 5-foot-7 Cantimbuhan's basketball career started at La Salle-Dasmariñas Patriots, when he was assigned to be their main facilitator.

While playing for the Patriots, Cantimbuhan was also discovered and landed a spot with club team Dasmariñas Ballers, which plays in the NBL Philippines.

During the inaugural season of the NBL, Cantimbuhan was hailed season Most Valuable Player of the league, and was even tagged as the "Terrence Romeo" of the NBL.

Cantimbuhan's entry to the MPBL is the latest step in the young point guard's quest to carve out an established name in Philippine basketball.

"Natutuwa ako na nandito na ako sa liga na ito. Kailangan ko lang din paghirapan kung sakaling suwertehin, makilala. Pero every game, basta give lang ng best ako lagi," said Cantimbuhan.

"Sa career ko, paghihirapan ko talaga para tumaas pa yung ceiling ko and syempre, hindi rin dapat lalaki ang ulo, remain focused."

Having premier guards like Anderson, Helterbrand, James Martinez, and Mikee Reyes in the fold further speeds up the process too for Cantimbuhan.

"Sobrang binibigyan nila ako ng confidence sa practice. Sinasabi nila kung ano ang mga dapat kong gawin or i-improve. Pinapangaralan nila ako and nagmo-motivate. Hindi nila ako pinapabayaan kada practice," said Cantimbuhan.

"Sobrang saya na napunta ako sa team na ito. Pangarap ng ibang player na may maging kakampi katulad nina James, Jayjay, kaya ako, ready talaga ako para tumulong sa kanila at lumaban."

With 26 more games awaiting the Bandera, Cantimbuhan is someone who could provide quality minutes and give a new dynamic to the system of the Bandera.

"It is a great opportunity for him. He got a chance today and he showed up. He just has to be consistent in bringing that energy every single game. If he does that, he has a very bright future," said Helterbrand.

About Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC:

Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma is one of the 10 pioneering teams of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League playing in the Southern Division of the league playing at the Imus City Sports Complex in Imus, Cavite, a third-class city in the Philippines.

The Bandera hold a 1-3 record in the South Division of the Lakan Cup. They will make their much-anticipated season home debut on Saturday, July 20 against the SOCCSKSARGEN Marlins.

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