Improved JC Intal a ‘positive influence’ to Barako Bull, says coach
MANILA, Philippines - What was a strong start to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup for the Barako Bull Energy turned sour towards the end, as the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals for a second consecutive conference by blowout fashion at the hands of the much-better Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters.
Barako raced out of the gates with a 3-0 start in the second conference, but injuries and inconsistent play in their following games forced them down to the seventh seed in the league standings and with an unfavorable matchup against a peaking Talk ’N Text - winners of their last three games.
But one positive that can be taken from Barako’s short tenure in the Commissioner’s Cup is the improved play of swingman JC Intal, who has transformed himself from being a high-flying, daredevil-like penetrator early in his career into a respectable shooter from downtown.
Intal is currently averaging 13.1 points and 4.9 rebounds a contest this PBA season, which are on pace to be career-highs. He’s already hit 31 triples as well through two conferences, which is only nine short of his career-high for 3-point makes in a season - 40 - which he established in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
“Over the break, shooting talaga (it was really my shooting),” Intal talked about which aspect of his game he’s worked on as of late. “Last year, wala akong break, wala akong vacation. Talagang prinactice ko yung outside shooting. Then after the All-Filipino [conference] tuloy-tuloy parin.
(Last year, I didn’t have a break nor a vacation. I really practiced my outside shooting. Then after the first conference, I continued working.)
Intal’s strong work ethic earns him praise from Barako head coach Koy Banal, who called his starting forward a huge part of the franchise’s future.
“I’m just thankful for his attitude,” Banal said after the loss to TNT on Saturday, March 28. “He’s a positive influence to the team.”
Intal, for his part, wants to help stir improvement for Barako Bull, who hasn’t made a significant playoff run since changing their team name for the 2011 PBA season.
“I don’t know yet the plans of management, but hopefully we’ll get better next conference. I think we’ll get [import Solomon] Alabi still.”
“We lost Willie Wilson and Solomon Mercado got injured, so kulang kami sa (we were lacking) firepower. But hopefully our second group will step up next conference.”
“He’s a big guy, especially on defense,” Intal said about Alabi, who averaged 23.7 points and 19.3 rebounds a contest this past conference. “Malaki kumpiyansa namin pag nanduon siya (our confidence is high when he’s) inside, especially blocking the shots. Hopefully on offense we’ll get better also and I’m sure he will.”
Banal says the team hopes for Alabi to return, seeing as Barako, once again, will have the advantage of bringing in an import with unlimited height while the rest of their competition will have to fare with a 6-foot-5 limit.
However, Alabi has yet to confirm a return as he tends to family matters.
“I think we’ll have a very short break lang and then we’ll get back to work coming into the Governors’ Cup. And we really have to improve, especially on defense,” said Intal, 31.
“Hopefully next conference maganda ulit yung start and ma-sustain namin.”
(Hopefully next conference, we start strong again and this time we sustain it.)