Cool Cat on Fire!
April 15, 2012 by Sydrick Salazar
It’s hard for a local to score a triple-double in the PBA. The only way for a player to score such feat is by becoming a Mr. Do-It-All. There are a few players that have accomplished that feat, but none of them in recent history.
When was the last time a PBA player perfectly executed a triple-double ballgame?
I have no idea.
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That was until Mike “The Cool Cat” Cortez did such feat.
Drafted ahead of Romel Adducul, Enrico Villanueva, Cyrus Baguio, Ronald Tubid, and Jimmy Alapag, this former De La Salle Green Archer did enough to get then-Alaska coach Tim Cone to jump in his bandwagon. He was the top pick of the 2003 PBA Draft by the Aces and was touted as their next Johnny Abarrientos.
Well, there is only one Flying A.
But in hindsight, Cortez didn’t have a bad career either.
Almost a decade after the 2003 PBA Draft, he is now playing for the Barangay Ginebra Kings. When Jayjay Helterbrand went down because of injury at the start of the 2012 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Cortez had to get an ample amount of the load. This said load evolved to so much more following the eye injury sustained by Mark Caguioa.
Without Mark Caguioa, the Gins looked nothing like the second seed they were in the end of the eliminations. Against the B-Meg Llamados in their semifinal faceoff, the Kings looked lost without their Spark. Jackson Vroman’s ineffectiveness to deliver the important shots in crunch time is what’s ruining their chances. For a team loaded with stars, there were no go-to-guys that were presenting their selves as the team’s biggest savior. Even Cortez looked lost against the formidable foe led by James Yap, Marc Pingris, Peter June Simon, Josh Urbiztondo, and import Denzel Bowles.
With their backs against the wall, they need a miracle to withstand B-Meg Llamados’ onslaught.
And then the miracle happened.
In front of almost 11,000 people strong, “Sakuragi” Marc Pingris was ejected after getting a technical foul and a flagrant foul that ultimately led to his ejection.
And then for the first time in the series, Denzel Bowles struggled to make his self relevant.
Then KG Canaleta scored four triples in the fourth quarter including three straight in a span of two minutes. Canaleta would finish the game with a game-high 23 points.
And then there’s the Mike Cortez triple-double.
The Cool Cat finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists – which is the first time for him to accomplish such feat. He also did this in an all-important ballgame heading the call to quench Ginebra’s search for players to step up. To withstand JC Intal’s 18-point explosion as well as the 8-point offensive burn of Vroman, Cortez stepped up big time.
So I think Tim Cone, Cortez’ first coach in the PBA, will have his eyes locked on Ginebra’s all-around star. Of course, Cone needs to be weary of a lot of guys aside from Cool Cat. Reaching in double digits in Game Three were Canaleta, Helterbrand, and Dylan Ababou. Rudy Hatfield and Vroman also made significant contributions to the game. For B-Meg, I don’t think Pingris and Bowles will have the same output come Game Four but for their sake, Yap, Simon, Joe Devance, Urbiztondo, and hopefully Jonas Villanueva will step up and rise from the challenge.
Is Game Four the final game of this exciting Best-of-five series?
If you said yes…
Don’t tell that to Mike Cortez and even to Siot Tanquingcen and his players and staff because they’ll do everything in their never-say-die power to prove all of us wrong.