By JONAS TERRADO
NLEX rookie Calvin Oftana destroyed one of the PBA records held by the great Allan Caidic during his 34-point performance in a losing effort against Meralco at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The third pick in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft drained eight triples in the Road Warriors’ 104-101 defeat Wednesday, Sept. 22 to set a new single-game record for most three-point shots by a first-year player.
Oftana shattered Caidic’s previous mark which he set while playing for Great Taste during Game 2 of the 1987 PBA Open Conference Finals against Tanduay.
Caidic fired seven threes but Great Taste fell 135-134 in overtime to Tanduay on June 16, 1987 at The ULTRA, now known as the Philsports Arena, in Pasig City.
Three of Oftana’s trifecta came during the final minutes when NLEX suddenly came back from 19 down to pull within two.
His final triple that erased Caidic’s record came with two seconds left which cut the Road Warriors’ deficit to 103-101. Time, however, wasn’t on their side and the Bolts were able to sneak out a three-point win.
NLEX settled for a 5-6 record but will compete in the quarterfinals either in a best-of-three series as the sixth seed against No. 3 Magnolia Pambansang Manok or a twice-to-win disadvantage opposite No. 2 Meralco.
Oftana fell two points shy of tying the highest scoring game by a rookie this conference. TNT’s Mikey Williams holds that distinction after going for 36 in a 100-85 win over NLEX last Sept. 10.
The ex-San Beda star has been up-and-down since the start of the conference, finishing the eliminations with averages of 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 11 games.
His eight threes can be considered as a bit of a surprise since Oftana’s shooting is way behind that of Caidic, as evident with his 29-percent clip from downtown in his first PBA conference.
But the Meralco game could help Oftana gain the confidence he needs moving forward.