|Mike Ayonayon, second from left, joined his new teammates at NLEX at the PBA Media Day one day before he continues his MPBL Playoffs conquest for San Juan.|
By Ivan Saldajeno
PARAÑAQUE—On the eve of their MPBL team's Northern Division semifinal opener against Pampanga, San Juan's Renzo Subido and Mike Ayonayon took some time off from practice to join the PBA teams that drafted them during the league's preseason media day on Thursday at the Okada Manila Grand Ballroom here.
With a huge MPBL playoff game incoming, both guards should have been practicing with the Knights, but they really had to be with their PBA clubs for the media day event.
"Sinabi lang sa akin na required yung mga rookies," Subido, who was drafted by NorthPort 29th overall, told Dugout Philippines.
The former UST standout added, "Once in a lifetime lang ito dadating, so pumunta ako."
|Renzo Subido, standing beside PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, took the time off from the Knights' practice to join the Batang Pier in the "once in a lifetime" moment to be in the PBA Media Day.|
In a separate chat with Dugout Philippines, Ayonayon, who was drafted eighth overall—third in the regular draft—by NLEX, echoed Subido's earlier statement and said, "Pinapunta rin ako ng mga bosses, sina Coach Yeng [Guiao] and Coach Jolas [Lastimosa]."
Both players, however, are in different approaches in terms of their practices with the Knights and their respective PBA squads especially that the Knights are defending their MPBL title.
Subido bared that he has been practicing with the Batang Pier since they drafted him, putting him in a situation in which he is training for two clubs at the same time, but according to him, he is doing fine in terms of balancing his time in practices.
"Ngayon, wala naman kasing conflict dahil morning naman yung practice ng NorthPort, so OK naman in terms of the schedule," he further quipped.
On the other hand, Ayonayon said that he is being given the green light to practice with San Juan without the need to practice for NLEX.
"Kapag malapit na yung game preparation namin, nagpapaalam ako sa NLEX na di ako makaka-attend. Buti naman pinapayagan ako," he further said, adding that he is prioritizing San Juan right now in case both teams' practice times coincide with each other.
However, in the times that he can practice with both clubs, Ayonayon admitted that there are times in which he goes home very tired.
"Mahirap siya (juggling with both teams' practices). Iba yung sistema. Minsan nga, paguwi ko, bagsak ang katawan ko. Sobrang pagod rin," he bared.
But Ayonayon insisted, "Kaya naman kasi ito na yung trabaho namin. Talagang ako lang ang mag-a-adjust sa sarili ko."
Owning homecourt edge throughout the MPBL postseason, Subido is liking San Juan's chances of defending its national championship.
"San Juan is a very strong team. They're composed of talented players. Confident naman ako that San Juan would prosper in that series against Pampanga," Subido further said.
But for Ayonayon, being the heavy favorites makes the Knights the most targeted squad in the MPBL Playoffs.
"Halos lahat ng teams sa MPBL, gustong-gusto kaming talunin kasi nga defending champion—gustong agawin yung crown sa amin—pero gagawin lang namin ang best namin," he vowed.
San Juan and Pampanga will face off in Game 1 of their second round affair on Friday night at the former's home, the FilOil Flying V Centre.
All photos courtesy of Nikki Collantes
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno