EVERY player in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble in Pampanga wants to gain any advantage he could get.
More so for Magnolia’s Jackson Corpuz, who has been struggling in the team’s campaign in the Clark bubble. Does he need to color his hair again?
“Kahapon (Monday) nag-text sa akin. ‘Coach, puwede ba kong magkulay?’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige.
Kahit walong kulay pa gawin mo,’” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero related.
Since he was signed up from rookie free agency by Mahindra in 2017, the 31-year-old forward has been known to apply different coloring gels on his hair, even changing the hue during halftime of each game.
Whether it is superstition or he’s trying to emulate one of his idols in former NBA star Dennis Rodman, nobody knows.
Or really cares, since Corpuz has shown he is right up there with the league’s decent power forwards, complementing his rare scoring spurts with regular large doses of rebounds, defense and hustle plays.
Up to last season and despite injuries at some points of his career, the basketball late bloomer, whose first love was volleyball, has managed to post averages of 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, including a career-high of almost 10 ppg last season.
Looking for somebody who could possibly take over from Marc Pingris in case the latter retires, Magnolia acquired Corpuz from Columbian (now Terrafirma) in a one-on-one deal for Aldrech Ramos last December.
But the hair-dyeing stopped.
At first, there didn’t seem to be any ill effect as Corpuz started the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds in Magnolia’s 78-94 loss to San Miguel Beer last March 8.
Then the slide in performance came, which could either be blamed on the long layoff following the PBA’s ensuing shutdown since March 11, the unfamiliar atmosphere of playing in a bubble or keeping his hair black.
Hobbled by early foul trouble each time, Corpuz notched only a total of 11 points and 10 rebounds in the Hotshots’ first two games in the bubble, a dip that reached its nadir with a two-point, one-rebound performance against Alaska last Saturday.
“Kinausap ko. ‘Nandito ka na sa amin. Baka akala mo nandoon ka pa sa kabila,’” offered Victolero.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘2Twenty-one minutes one rebound? Hindi naman ganyan ang laro mo. Kaya ka dinala dito para sa klase ng laro mo. Kung gusto mong magkulay ng buhok, magkulay ka. Para bumalik lakas mo,’” added Victolero.