NI ERNEST HERNANDEZ
TULAD ng inaasahan, hindi napahiya ang Magnolia Hotshots sa pagkuha kay Filipino-American Robbie Herndon sa nakalipas na drafting. Sa kanyang debut, umiskor siya ng siyam na puntos at may pitong rebounds.
Sa pagkawala nina Rafi Reavis at Marc Pingris, na pawang nagpapagaling sa natamong injury, sinamantala ni Herndon ang playing time na nakuha para maipamalas ang husay at matulungan ang koponan.
“Right now, I am just excited that I was able to play though I was doubtful because of my back (injury),” sambit ni Herndon. “God willing, I was able to get out there and play, excited to contribute and help the team win.”
Nakuha ng GlobalPort Batang Pier bilang 6th overall pick si Herndon sa 2017 PBA draft, ngunit ipinamigay ito sa Magnolia kapalit nina rookies Lervin Flores, Joseph Gabayni, at Julian Sargent.
Hrap sa unang sabak ng ensayo, unti-unti nakasabay si Herndon sa istilo at sistema ng Hotshots. At sa kasalukuyan, handang makipagsabayan.
“We practice every day, and we practice above that every day. I am focused to learn the system. There’s a lot going on at Magnolia. The system is a lot,” aniya.
“These players have been together awhile, and I’m the only new guy. So I come in focusing on every practice and tune-up game to figure it out and mold in. I think so far; I’m there.”
Para sa kanya, ayaw niyang mapahiya sa kanyang teammates, higit sa mga player na kanyang iniidolo.
“You know, it is just being out there and playing with people I always see in the articles and TV. Being their teammates and just being out there, it’s surreal. It is like ‘wow,’ I am finally here,” sambit ni Herndon.
Sa kanyang rookie debut, nakaharap ni Herndon ang dalawang hinahangaan na pklayer – sina Calvin Abueva at Vic Manuel.
“I know that it is going to be physical in the PBA. It was already physical in the D-League and a physical game in general. There will be players that will try to tuck on your jersey or just want to hit you when you are not looking. That is part of the game, and it doesn’t bother me,” pahayag ni Herndon.