Calvin Oftana is looking ahead to his first-ever Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Finals appearance, a stint TNT wanted to make a reality ever since it acquired the talented forward from NLEX earlier in the season.
“I’m excited,” said Oftana, who will be one of the key players the Tropang Giga will pin their hopes on against Barangay Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup Finals series which starts on Easter Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Hopefully we can do the things that made us successful this conference, and I’m also excited about how we’re going to deal with our Finals opponent,” added Oftana in Filipino.
TNT secured the services of Oftana last September, or before the Commissioner’s Cup got underway through a three-team trade that also included Blackwater.
But the Tropang Giga had to unload veteran big man Troy Rosario, who went to the Bossing, while the Road Warriors received rookie Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser from NLEX.
Expectations were high that TNT, coming off a Finals defeat to San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup, would be among the top contenders knowing Oftana’s talent and impressive numbers of 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in his final conference with NLEX.
But the second conference turned out to be a dud for the Tropang Giga as they finished with a 4-8 (win-loss) slate to miss the playoffs. The dismal campaign also turned into an adjustment period for Oftana, whose production dipped to 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals.
“My first conference with TNT was a bit downhill and we didn’t make the quarters,” Oftana said. “But I’m really looking forward to being in the Finals, especially in my young career here at TNT.”
He averaged 13.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a steal up to this point of the season-ending tournament as TNT made it back to the championship stage by going 10-1 in the eliminations before defeating Phoenix and Meralco in the playoffs.
Oftana was key in TNT’s semis clincher against Meralco, scoring all of his 21 points in the first half of Game 4 which ended with a 107-92 victory.
Now he gets a chance to get a championship as a pro, a feeling that he had savored multiple times as a collegiate standout at San Beda in the NCAA. Oftana helped the Red Lions win three in a row from 2016.
Will that be a factor for Oftana come the championship tussle?
“I spent many years with San Beda and I was able to experience how to become a champion. I guess it will help me during this Finals,” he said.
“But it’s true that it’s a different league, and we’re now on a professional level. You’re facing great coaches and great players—talented players,” Oftana continued. “What I can do is to stay focused and make sure we can execute our game plan in this Finals.” INQ
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