By Adrian Stewart Co
After bouncing from one team to another at the early part of his Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) career, Bacolodnon big man Justin Chua has found a home at the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.
The former Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles slot man has emerged as the Fuel Masters’ top center this 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, including a career-best 17 rebounds in Phoenix’s 110-103 win over San Miguel Beermen.
Fuel Masters head coach Michael “Tope” Robinson said he was not surprised with the rise of the Bacolod City-native Chua as the team’s consistent rebounder and defensive stopper as well.
“What we love about Justin is he’s so coachable. He’s always going to ask you questions, he will not hesitate to try things, gamble on things, and innovate,” Robinson said on the third-year Phoenix center.
“He is going to make mistakes but he is receptive and we are just happy for him that Justin broke out of his shell,” he added. “‘Yung tinuro lang sa kanya is the mindset of him to believe in himself. Super basic.”
“I just told him, you’ve been in this league for a while, you’ve been to five teams already and this is the best time to make yourself valuable,” he said. “Whether it’s your defense or your three-point shooting, make yourself valuable. ‘Yun ang importante sa kanya and he embraced it.”
The 31-year-old Chua was a former standout of Trinity Christian School in Bacolod City before being recruited to play for Chiang Kai Shek College and later to the Blue Eagles in the UAAP.
In the PBA, Chua started his career with GlobalPort Batang Pier before moving to San Miguel Beermen, Barako Bull Energy, TNT Tropang Texters, Meralco Bolts and the Fuel Masters. He has won a PBA championship when he was still with the Beermen.
The Fuel Masters are set to face the TNT Tropang Giga in the best-of-five semifinals of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup beginning tonight at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Pampanga./ASC, WDJ