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Despite snub, Rod says life must go on

By Jerome Lagunzad

Denied of a rare chance to represent what he considers his “second home” in the international stage, Congolese center Rod Ebondo is eager to move on and give his usual best anew for defending champion Centro Escolar University.

That’s precisely what the 6-foot-6 Ebondo did last Monday when he powered CEU to an 82-76 victory over erstwhile rampaging Colegio de San Lorenzo in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2.

Flashing his usual dominant form, Ebondo muscled his way to a game-high 26 points, including a three-pointer, on top of 13 rebounds and two assists while helping contain his touted Griffins counterpart Soulemane Chabi Yo en route to the Scorpions’ fifth straight victory.

Ebondo certainly played with a chip on his shoulder after the Chinese Embassy refused to give him a visa that forced him out of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas squad competing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China.

“The opportunity that I have didn’t work out so I just have to move on,” admitted the African big man to Tempo/Manila Bulletin after dishing out his finest performance yet.

“Frankly, I was really down because I really wanted to represent the Philippines which has been good to me for the past few years. But with the help of my coaches and the team management, they encouraged me to be strong and play.

I’ve tried to come back and play my best.”

Indeed. Ebondo was at his unstoppable form mainly in the second canto where he teamed up with veteran guard Orlan Wamar in CEU’s telling run that allowed them to pull away from CdSL.

After making an uncontested two-handed jam earlier, Ebondo tried to throw one down infront of Chabi Yo but he found himself on the wrong end after the equally athletic Griffins reinforcement soared high for an emphatic block.

“I was looking for a poster but he blocked me,” said Ebondo with a smile. “But every time I play basketball, especially when I’m up against a very good opponent, I always make sure to give my best.

“He’s a very good player and versatile like me. He really came to play,” he said of Chabi Yo who finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block in another all-around performance despite the Griffins’ first setback in six matches.

Although he still has some regret that he could not provide some quality minutes as a reliever to Chooks-to-Go import Isaiah Austin, Ebondo is quick to shift his full focus on CEU’s title-retention bid.