During an interview with Patrick Cabahug earlier this season, I had an opportunity to ask the Filipino guard what fans could come to expect from him as a veteran of the region. The answer that was given was an inspiring one, showing just how much love Cabahug has for the team and the sport of basketball.

“I like to play and compete against whoever is on the court,” the veteran replied.

“I give my 100% for the team.”

In that moment, I felt so touched and happy to know that the Dragons were able to retain the services of Patrick once again.

To start things off, he was one of the few imports that the Dragons had when they initially began their franchise, living up to expectations by becoming a deadly shooter out of Cebu. Secondly, Cabahug came to Malaysia as a young professional and left without achieving his dream with the team. With his return, he brings back experience baggage as a proven veteran in Southeast Asia, ready to take Westports Malaysia Dragons back atop a throne that they once occupied not too long ago.

PHOTO CREDIT: JOAQUI FLORES / ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

However, things haven’t turned out exactly as we thought… or at least how I thought it would be.

The “Pinas Sniper” hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show his worth on the court thus far in ABL 8. After all, he’s only averaging 18.5 minutes a game through five contests, and as a result, has hit an ABL career low in just about every statistical category.

Can you believe that such a prolific scorer such as Patrick has only been able to average seven points and 3.4 boards a game?

It’s really quite frustrating to see a player who is so hungry and willing to fight for the success of a team have such little control over his playing situation. Some local fans have gone so far as to question his value for the Dragons on forums, which begs one ultimate question.

How could a player have a positive influence and contribute to a team if he is limited to say, just eight minutes a game?

Yea, I get it, we should be focusing on local player development while proceeding towards our season’s objective, so in turn, some players just simply have to bite the bullet and sacrifice their playing time for the greater good right?

But consider this.

Is it fair to judge a player’s value in such limited playing time?

PHOTO CREDIT: ONVISA THEWPHAINGARM / ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

For fans who watched the third meeting between Mono Vampire and Westports Malaysia Dragons in Thailand, Cabahug only saw about five minutes of game time. During those measly minutes, he failed to receive a single pass from teammates despite being wide open during the team’s possessions down the stretch. In fact, if you were to look closely into his eyes, you could just about see the confidence and determination in drilling the long ball being emitted, but it ends at that.

He didn’t get an opportunity and was benched shortly after for the rest of the game.

Conversely, his ex-runningmate and fellow Philippine-national Paul Zamar continued with his killer instinct play on offense for Mono Vampire, relentlessly tearing apart a lackluster defensive performance from the visiting Dragons. Back in the Thailand Basketball League (TBL), the combination of Cabahug and Zamar were essentially a Pinas iteration of the “Splash Brothers,” capable of playing inside-out basketball and converting buckets upon buckets.

After the match, both Zamar and Cabahug shared an embrace last for about half a minute. I’m sure even Paul is wondering why he wasn’t given an opportunity to match up against his mentor in such a tightly-fought contest.

PHOTO CREDIT: THAILAND BASKETBALL SUPER LEAGUE

For fans who may have doubts about Cabahug’s capabilities to lead a team, allow me to give you a friendly reminder with some cold-hard facts. He has played in five different playoffs throughout ABL history, having won a championship with Hi-Tech Bangkok City. I’ll admit, it was a pain for many Dragons fans, myself included, especially since Patrick went into beast mode during that championship season, scoring 20 points on 41 percent from the field, all the while grabbing three rebounds on average during that nine game stretch.

Additionally, he also led Mono Thewphaingarm to the finals of the Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL), and the semi-finals of the TBL in 2017. His leadership and friendly personality is a well-respected characteristic among many teams from the region. I believe those who have worked alongside the Pinas Sniper will agree with me on this.

Without a doubt, Patrick Cabahug possesses the ability and experience to help the team on and off the court, but who am I to question the coaches’ decisions and arrangements? I’m just simply a fan of basketball at the end of the day. One who loves to see players compete with passion and pride to simply put things. In no way do I consider myself an expert, however, I can say that Patrick has the desire and will to fight for the team.

PHOTO CREDIT: ONVISA THEWPHAINGARM / ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

What I see is a competitor that wants to get out there and win for the team.

Again, from the perspective of a fan of basketball just like many of you out there, I believe Patrick Cabahug deserves more playing time from his current amount. Not to sound like a broken record, but he is more than capable of holding his own when it comes to scoring and leading a team to success.

Let him play. Pass him the ball. Trust that he can make things happen.

The team needs the service of the missing Pinas Sniper.