Underrated Rain or Shine import Pierre Henderson-Niles had the last laugh against his former college teammate and now Alaska counterpart Robert Dozier on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-8 Henderson-Niles provided the defensive presence and solid rebounding in a game the Rain or Shine just refused to give away.
With Paul Lee and Jericho Cruz stepping up big, the Elasto Painters dealt the undermanned Alaska Aces a 109-92 beating to capture the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship.
His chase for a first championship as a pro took him to several teams since his final season in college in 2010. But it was with Rain or Shine that he finally got his initial championship ring.
“Happy man, I’m real happy. We won 3 in a row, they (Aces) came back and beat us back-to-back because they wanted it more than us, but then, we had a team meeting yesterday, we came together and lay it on the line tonight, so we’re champions. We did it,” said an emotional Henderson-Niles.
The 29-year-old Henderson-Niles said he’s got nothing but respect for Dozier, the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Best Import, who was his teammate for 3 years in Memphis.
Henderson-Niles and Dozier were together when Memphis, behind their leader and current Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose lost to Kansas in the 2008 US NCAA Finals in overtime.
“I was gonna bring it (PBA title) home or he’s gonna bring it home,” said the 275-pound Rain or Shine import.
“He was like my brother. We’ve known each other since we were 17 so me beating him, it means a lot to me. But hey, either me or him, and I want it,” he added.
Since his first PBA game on April 10, Rain or Shine went on to win 10 of its last 13 games on the way to capturing just the franchise’s 2nd league title.
But Henderson-Niles admitted he was still in bad shape during his 13-game stint with Rain or Shine.
“I’ll just get in shape because I did all this and I wasn’t in shape,” he said.
“But I’m glad we won it. I wasn’t in no kind of shape but God blessed me man.”
Should Rain or Shine decide to bring him back next season, the wide-bodied import won’t hesitate coming back and hopefully, win another PBA title for the Asian Coating franchise.
“I hope I do (come back and play in the PBA)., But if I don’t, they can come get me when it’s playoff time,” he said before going back to celebrating with his teammates. – By Richard Dy
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