NLEX rookie Calvin Oftana is 'a very special player', says coach Yeng

Published September 29, 2021, 10:27 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao spoke highly about rookie Calvin Oftana after his heroic performance that helped the Road Warriors extend their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal matchup against the Meralco Bolts.

Oftana came to the rescue for NLEX when his layup off Jericho Cruz’s inbound pass with 6.1 seconds secured a thrilling 81-80 victory over Meralco Wednesday, Sept. 29 and force a do-or-die affair for a spot in the semis.

While admitting that the third pick in this year’s draft remains a work in progress, Guiao believes Oftana is something exceptional.

“Kailangan lang ni Calvin is to mature with his decision-making,” Guiao said. “But he has all the attributes, he has the basketball body, he has the athletic ability and he has the composure.

“All rookies will go through a point where they will have to make mistakes first before they get better so he’s in that point. So, he’s a very special player so we were very lucky that we were able to draft him.”

The former San Beda star’s showing came after firing 34 points on eight triples also against Meralco last Sept. 22, breaking the old mark shared by the great Allan Caidic (1987), Troy Rosario (2016) and CJ Perez (2019).

But Oftana had only 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including six misses from three-point range. That didn’t prevent Guiao from trusting him to be first option for the winning play.

“Actually yung last play, if we had Kiefer with us, that would have been for Kiefer,” Guiao said, referring to Kiefer Ravena who left the team midway to the conference to prepare for his Japan stint with the B.League’s Shiga Lakestars.

“But he (Oftana) stepped in the shoes of Kiefer and he’s done excellently so far,” added Guiao.