Josh Urbiztondo (photo by Brian Yalung)
Josh Urbiztondo (photo by Brian Yalung)

MANILA, Philippines – One of the less heralded and overlooked PBA players today has been Josh Urbiztondo. Originally debuting at Sta. Lucia, the 21 year old Urbiztondo has had his share of surprising the opposing team with his steady plays and long bombs.

Josh Urbiztondo was an undrafted rookie in 2009. He was signed by the now-disabanded Sta. Lucia Realtors. He was the sleeper of the draft and then-coach Boyet Fernandez took notice of his talent. Urbiztondo later on made the All-Rookie team that year.

The Fireball first got into the limelight when he fired 24 points for Sta. Lucia in a match ironically with his current team, the Air21 Express.

After that, the next highlight Urbiztondo got was at the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup conference. Playing for the first time under new head coach Bong Ramos, Urbiztondo burned the hoops with a career-high 31 points  to lead the Express to a 92-87 win over the San Miguel Beermen.

The victory was before the blockbuster PBA trade took place which sent Dondon Hontiveros, Danny Seigle, Dorian Pena and Paul Artadi to the Express in exchange for their top rookies Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Noy Baclao and Rey Guevarra.

And then of course you know of his latest feat, a performance that sent the surprising Air21 team to the PBA semis with a shocking 97-94 win over the Alaska Aces. He scored 14 of his 17 points in the third quarter that included four straight three-pointers , the last of which came at the end of the quarter that left him motionless in disbelief.

His feat earned him Best Player of the Game honors, but more importantly sent the Express into the semis against another powerhouse team, the Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters.

If you had followed some of my posts tied up with the Air21 ballclub, you may have noticed that I had emphasized the importance of bench support. Urbiztondo helped me prove this theory which totally rubbed off on his teammates.

If Josh keeps this up, another upset is not far from happening against the Tropang Texters. TnT’s focus will surely be on the 3D’s and the explosive Alpha Bangura but Coach Chot Reyes may want to keep his eyes on the unpredictable “Fireball” if they want to make it safely into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals.

Air21 didn’t come this far to just roll over and die. With a more cohesive Air21 team, could TnT be the next victim? Let us wait and see once the PBA semis kick off.

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