ANTIPOLO CITY — RK Ilagan has only played 16 games in the PBA but he already has two shots to remember, all happening in one venue.

Photo from PBA

Ilagan’s latest play in the clutch played an important role in the Converge FiberXers’ first-ever win in the big league, his three that sent the game into overtime eventually resulting in an 89-82 win over the Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots.

That came almost four months after Ilagan, then wearing the red uniforms of the Alaska Aces, showed steely nerves despite being a rookie by hitting a buzzer-beating shot over Bong Quinto that beat the Meralco Bolts, 94-93, at the Ynares Center here.

The setting was also inside this showplace Friday, June 10 when Ilagan fired a game-tying three over Magnolia’s pesky defender Jio Jalalon with 3.6 seconds left, eventually sending the contest to an extra five-minute period.

Another triple by Ilagan, which came at the start of the extension, set up the landmark victory for the FiberXers after their bid to begin their PBA foray ended with a late meltdown and a loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

“Nagkataon lang po,” Ilagan said on whether there’s some good omen of playing at Ynares given the pair of heroics he had made despite having little PBA games under his belt.

“Siguro naisip ko rin po yung against Meralco,” he continued after the three-pointer that came despite sitting on the bench for almost nine minutes.

Coach Jeffrey Cariaso said the shot against Meralco had a hand in his decision to bring in Ilagan, even if the likes of Jeron Teng and Maverick Ahanmisi were key in Converge’s rally from a 20-point second quarter deficit.

And for the FiberXers mentor, it was not a difficult decision to go with a player who came in cold amid the desperate situation.

“When you’re proven that you can hit the big shot, you have to keep going to him,” Cariaso said.

“The second time around, it was easy for me. I kinda wish that maybe we would’ve given the opportunity last game also but again, RK is clutch.

“He has a big heart. He prepares well. He’s a wonderful teammate. And you can’t ask anything more from him,” added Cariaso.

Ending the day by tying a career-high of 14 points, the heroics could help Ilagan, a third-round selection in the 2021 draft, a great deal moving forward.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2022/06/11/rk-ilagan-downplays-late-game-heroics-at-ynares/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rk-ilagan-downplays-late-game-heroics-at-ynares)