Phoenix was defending a slender lead over powerful San Miguel in its inaugural PBA on Tour game when the Fuel Masters went to perhaps the most unlikely player to be given the ball in those circumstances.
It was Daniel Atienza, a rookie prospect Phoenix had signed for the upcoming preseason. He heeded the call, making two free throws to help the Fuel Masters hold onto their victory over the Beermen.
It was also doubtful that Atienza would make it to the PBA.
The 25-year-old Atienza was looking for a squad to work out with exclusively so he could stay in condition in anticipation of the next potential opportunity when he approached Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin, his former coach at National University. Atienza had been cut from the Valenzuela MPBL team earlier this year.
He had no idea that he would soon get the chance of a lifetime.
Phoenix is Daniel Atienza’s new seat.
Atienza claimed that he was actually hunting for MPBL Team weeks before the PBA On Tour began.
He also went up to Coach Jamike and asked if he may practice for a potential tryout. He was fortunately given the opportunity to participate in a PBA game. The player was taken aback when Coach Jamike told him he may play for Phoenix, but he quickly expressed his gratitude for the chance.
Atienza regards Jarin as a father and is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the PBA, despite the fact that it is not an official competition. He claimed that due to a shoulder issue that began when he was in the juniors, he never had the opportunity to play much for Jarin in the UAAP.
When Jarin was still the coach of NU, he recalled seeing Atienza play. Since Ateneo and another team were competing for a title, he declined to get surgery since he did not want to. He wanted to play; he wanted to take part in the game. In fact, he was unable to even raise his hands. He nevertheless participated in the game. He reminded himself that Jarin had stated the need for this kid to inspire him.
When Atienza contacted Jarin, Jarin claimed that he did not think twice about giving him the opportunity.
Through his preseason time with Phoenix, Atienza is happy to have reconnected with Jarin.
As soon as he gets the chance, which he views as coming at the ideal time, Atienza stated he intends to enter the PBA draft this year.