Val Acuña was part of the multi-titled San Mig Coffee, but was traded before the team won a Grand Slam. His long-time teammate, Lester Alvarez, was also fortunate enough to become part of the historic triple crown.
But while the PBA championships they tasted were sweet, both players felt that it was more meaningful this time as key players of the Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay, the inaugural staging champion of the MPBL-Anta Rajah Cup.
“Sobrang sarap nitong championship na ito, kasi sa San Mig Coffee, hindi ako gaano nakalaro. Dito, (Batangas City), kasama ako sa rotation, starting five ako, captain ball pa ako. Sobrang sarap ng feeling,” Alvarez told FOXSports.ph in an exclusive interview.
While the 5-foot-9 guard was part of San Mig Coffee’s historic feat, he cherished this moment more as a champion for the Tanduay-backed Athletics, where he became a big contributor and facilitator.
“Nung kinuha nila ako dito sa MPBL, alam ko kailangan maging leader ako sa team ko. Pinu-prove ko lang yung sarili ko,” added Alvarez. “Kung makabalik ako ng PBA, mas OK, pero kung hindi naman, dito OK rin. Kung ano ang ibibigay ng Diyos sa akin.”
Acuña, a steady performer in the tournament until he became the main target in the finals, was able to help his team in whatever possible way. His performance this conference made him the first Most Valuable Player awardee, a plum which came with an incentive of P20,000.
“Parang palaging first time kapag nananalo ka ng championship,” added Acuña. “Iba po to, iba ito sa PBA. Hindi katulad nung nasa PBA kami, nagcha-champion kami pero may mga teammates akong magagaling, like James Yap. Pero right now, kami yung inaasahan ng team. Mas ramdam namin ito kaysa nung nasa PBA.”
“Maski anong championship naman, masaya yan. Pero ito kasi ramdam mo talaga.”
Acuña hugged the trophy for so long as soon as it was awarded to them by Senator Manny Pacquiao, founder of the MPBL, and former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes.
“Halos ayaw ko na nga bitawan yung trophy eh. Pinaghirapan naming talaga yun. Buong liga, dugo at pawis yung kailangan mong ibigay para mag-champion,” added Acuña.
Image by: Ralph Salcedo