MPBL: Jai Reyes leads by example, on and off the court
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 23, 2020 01:58 PM
Reyes scored in double-digits in 10 of his 13 games with Nueva Ecija, all while also being in charge of the squad's basketball operations.
Despite being eliminated in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season, Nueva Ecija team captain and chief of basketball operations Jai Reyes still goes all out every game.
Literally leading by example.
Reyes, who came in the team late September last year, is currently juggling two jobs, being the primary point guard of the team, all while being in charge of the squad's basketball operations, meeting both ends meet wonderfully.
The Ateneo product pulled the strings the moment he took the managerial job, acquiring James Martinez from Imus-Luxxe Slim, RR De Leon from Muntinlupa-Angelis Resort, and Tonino Gonzaga from Quezon City-WEMSAP.
As a player, he was the rock of the team, scoring in double-digits in 10 of his 13 games with Nueva Ecija.
Reyes was explosive on Wednesday against Bulacan, posting 20 points on a healthy 6-of-13 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 night from the line. He also dished out an MPBL career-high of 15 assists against just two errors.
More importantly, the Rice Vanguards stunned the Kuyas, 85-78, at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.
Reyes dedicated their victory to all Nueva Ecijanos who always trooped to the venues wherever it may be.
"Matagal na namin pinaghihirapan ito," sighed the 5-foot-7 floor general. "Hindi dahil sa nagttry pa kami humabol sa playoffs, kung hindi para sa Nueva Ecija fans talaga ito. Binabyahe nila papunta dito makanood lang kahit na ang layo nila dito sa venue."
When the game was on the line, that was when "Jainamite" took matters into his own hands.
Leading by just a sole point, 72-71, the point guard out of Ateneo went on to score the next 10 Nueva Ecija points - a three-point play, a floater and five free throws - to put his squad ahead by nine with 2:09 left in the game, 82-73.
"Nandoon na yung chance to win eh. Madalas nasa akin yung bola so I took over. Pero mas importante, salamat sa teammates ko kasi hindi naman ako makakalibre kung hindi nila nagagawa yung plays."
The 32-year-old ex-pro, despite having a big game in scoring, emphasized that playmaking is his top priority, ending up with 15 assists, his first double-digit outing in the category this season.
"Top priority pa rin ang playmaking. Basta maipasa ko lang ang bola sa teammates ko, kahit hindi macount as assist, malaking bagay yun na napapasaya mo yung teammates mo as a point guard."
When asked about Reyes' performance, assistant coach Carlo Tan only has good things and praise to say about his veteran.
"Jai is a really crafty point guard that's why he gets the job done everytime. He did a terrific job today," said Tan, who took the helm since head coach Charles Tiu and lead assistant TY Tang are in the Middle East for Mighty Sports’ tournament in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship.
In other games, Davao Occidental-Cocolife vented its ire against Parañaque-Yabo Sports, 78-70, while Makati-Super Crunch crushed Caloocan-Victory Liner by a whopping 42 points, 119-77.