Gary David may be 38 years old and inching closer to the twilight of his career, but as they say, age is just a number
The last time David was seen heating up on offense, whether it was jumpers from the perimeter or beyond the arc, was about seven years ago with the now-defunct Powerade Tigers, with whom he earned the nickname “El Granada” for his scoring explosions.
However, in the years that followed, David’s fire slowly dwindled. With a handful of team transfers from Meralco Bolts to San Miguel Beermen, and with a few stints outside the PBA, the force known as El Granada seemed to have detonated and gone dormant.
But on Sunday night at the historic SMART-Araneta Coliseum, David — who now suits up for three-year old franchise Mahindra Floodbuster — gave one vintage performance that made everyone in the stands take a trip down memory lane.
The Floodbuster may have absorbed a sour 99-95 defeat from the battle-tested Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in overtime, but if it weren’t for David, Mahindra would have lost grip early on in the game.
Mahindra found themselves behind by seven, 80-73, early in the final period, but David’s heroics in desperate times saved them. He anchored a furious 13-0 scoring spree, scoring 10 markers in that stretch — ended by a three-pointer all over James Yap’s defense — to will Mahindra ahead by six, 86-80, with 2:32 left in regulation.
As expected, Rain or Shine clamped down on him to prevent any more shots. His age also caught up with him late in the game, as he committed a key turnover. And in the next five minutes, he suddenly became a non-factor.
His effort may not have translated to a needed victory, but still, David has just proven that he can still be reliable when needed.
“Sayang, huli na. May chance na manalo eh,” rued David moments after their match. “Pero okay naman, stay positive lang kami.
“Maganda naman yung nilaro nung team. Nakipaglaban naman kami sa Rain or Shine, ‘di naman basta-basta yan. Malakas rin yan.”
The game was tied at 88-all before heading into the extra period. James White tried for the game-winner, but he missed. David has no qualms about it, but he wished he had been the one to launch the potential game-winning jumper.
“Kung nandoon ako sa loob, [expletive] kukunin ko yung bola nun. Ako titira,” claimed the four-time PBA scoring champion.
“Pero give credit naman kay James. Sa game gusto niya talaga manalo. Player instinct. Pero ganun talaga. May tsansa naman.”
This marks David’s first game back since the 2017 Philippine Cup due to a knee injury. Now that he has fully healed, David assures that he will always be ready once head coach Chris Gavina calls his name up.
“Sa akin naman ready lang ako eh. Ready lang naman ako ‘pag binunot ni coach Chris,” the native of Dinalupihan, Bataan shared.
“Basta ready lang ako ‘pag binunot niya ‘ko. Sabi ni coach bago mag-start yung game, ready lang ako. Sabi ko, ‘ready ako since birth.'”
The Floodbuster have now dropped to a 0-2 hole early in the import-laden conference, but David remains unfazed and positive that this young team of his will still have enough time to grow and develop as a unit.
“Nakita niyo naman yung first two games namin, closing games lang yung problema namin. Yung maturity, yung experience. Pero papunta na kami doon eh. Maaga pa yung conference kaya may chance pa kami,” the 12-year veteran believes.
“Sabi ko nga every game kailangan meron kaming matututunan. Itong first two games, marami kaming natutunan. Kaya looking forward kami na makuha yung first win namin.”