IT SEEMS a change in hair color was not the only thing Jackson Corpuz needed to dish out the kind of game expected of him.
Corpuz also had to get his mind straight and a Magnolia teammate was there to give him sound advice.
“Sabi nila coach (Chito Victolero), parang nakikita nila na ang tight daw ng katawan ko, ang tight ko gumalaw,” related Corpuz. “Sabi ko, ‘Coach hindi ko alam kung nape-pressure ako.’”
The 6-foot-4 forward spoke after he was adjudged the Best Player of the Game following the Magnolia-Ginebra match which the Hotshots won 102-92 last Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
The victory stopped the Hotshots’ three-game slide and pushed them back in the thick of the hunt for one of the eight playoff spots, and Corpuz sure earned the accolade.
The undrafted player in the 2014 draft finished with a team-high 20 points and six rebounds, marking his best game in a Magnolia uniform since he was acquired in a trade with Columbian (now Terrafirma) last December.
It was a performance expected of Corpuz since he was allowed to return to his old habit of changing his hair color by applying coloring gels before and during halftime of each game.
That initially bore fruit when Corpuz notched 12 points and eight boards in a 104-109 overtime loss to Meralco. Then came a two-point, four-rebound effort in an 84-91 loss to Phoenix Super LPG last Friday.
“Struggle talaga ako. Kasi mula first game pa lang namin, up-down, up-down ako,” said Corpuz, who had a solid debut for the Hotshots last March 8 with 16 and 13 against San Miguel Beer, followed by a total of only 11 points and 10 rebounds in their first two games in the bubble.
The pressure to perform naturally built up anew for Corpuz. Good thing there was roommate Paul Lee, a former Rookie of the Year and three-time champion, to give counsel.
“Nakatulong talaga sa akin si Paul, ginagabayan niya ‘ko,” bared Corpuz. “’Relax ka lang, tuloy mo lang — kung ano ‘yung iniisip mo, ‘wag mo muna isipin.’
“So binigyan niya ako ng puwede kong panoorin para ma-relax ‘yung utak ko.”
All those helped Corpuz mentally prepare for the duel with Ginebra, known as the “Manila Clasico” since 2012.
“Sobrang excited ko talaga rito sa Manila Clasico,” said Corpuz.