There’s a new assassin in the Muntinlupa Cagers camp.
GJ Ylagan, who plays the role as an off the bench player, is now embracing a bigger responsibility for his squad this season.
Averaging 12.3 points per game this season, Ilagan has stepped up big time when he came away with 22 points, built around six treys, in the Cagers’ 87-78 triumph against the Parañaque Patriots.
For Ylagan, the time is now, and the University of Perpetual Help product understands that he needs to score more.
“Nung mga nakaraang season namin bench player lang ako,” Ylagan told FOX Sports Philippines. “Sinabihan ako nina Coach na kailangan kong mag-trabaho, kailangan kong mag-step up.”
His new role as the team’s top gun is somewhat a motivation for Ylagan, especially now that he is assuming a bigger responsibility in a squad that was orphaned by key players like Allan Mangahas, Chito Jaime, and Don Reverente, among others.
“Sabi nila kailangan kong paghirapan yan dahil hindi basta-basta ibibigay sa akin yan. Doon ako kumukuha ng motivation, sa mga coaches, lalo na sa mga teammates ko. Sila nagchi-cheer up sa akin lalo na kapag frustrated ako,” added Ylagan.
Following the departure of the team’s previous key players, it’s not surprising why Muntinlupa was not installed as among the favorites this season.
It is a situation that works fine for Ylagan as the Cagers try to turn their doubters to believers.
“Mas OK na ganun na hindi kami favorites,” he added. “Yung hindi kami malakas, pero lalaban naman kami. Mas OK kami na underdog.”
Ylagan considers the team as a work in progress and he pleads to the fans to be more patient and understand the squad’s early struggle.
“Mas marami pa kasi yung bago kaysa sa mga natirang players. Yung chemistry namin kailangan talagang trabahuhin, bagong sistema rin. We need to follow the system, but everything is a work in progress,” he added.