After 2 unsuccessful tries for a return trip to the Finals, Rain or Shine slotman Beau Belga believes new import Pierre Henderson-Niles is fit to be called the “June Mar Fajardo-killer”.
Belga said Rain or Shine’s back-to-back playoff defeats to San Miguel in the past 2 conferences was due to, a large part, the team’s lack of a solid inside operator.
But with the wide-bodied Henderson-Niles, the Elasto Painters now have a physically-strong import when they gun for a Finals berth in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series against the Beermen on Sunday.
“Meron na kaming import na puwede pumatay kay June Mar. Saka inside presence, gusto iyan ni coach sa kanya (Henderson-Niles) kasi kapag makatanggap siya sa poste, umaatake siya,” Belga told FOX Sports on Thursday after the team’s practice at the oven-hot Nega gym in San Juan.
Henderson-Niles, listed at 6-8, is not a high-scoring import as evident in his 14-point and 10-rebound average in his 1st 3 games for Rain or Shine since replacing the undersized Mo Charlo.
But Belga said the former Memphis Tigers’ size can easily provide the intimidating presence for the Elasto Painters.
“Hindi naman siya hinahanapan ni coach na umiskor. Kahit pasundut-sundut lang si Pierre, pero talagang may intimidation factor kasi kahit tingin mo ganun siya, sobrang sipag niya sa ensayo,” he added.
Belga said Fajardo’s uncharacteristically quiet production (9 points and 8 rebounds) in San Miguel’s narrow 103-99 win over Star in their knockout quarterfinal game on Wednesday is a good sign for his team heading to their semifinal series against the Beermen.
“Nakita ko rin yung series ng Star saka San Miguel. Eh may panapat sila (Hotshots) kay June Mar,” said the former Philippine Christian University big man.
“Kami naman, kaya rin namin tapatan si June Mar plus meron kaming import na heavyweight, kaya mas magiging madali ang trabaho namin (locals),” he added.
Henderson-Niles has only been in the country for 2 weeks, and so far, his main complaint is the hot summer weather.
The Nega gym, an old basketball facility inside one of San Juan’s exclusive villages, is not equipped with air-condition, making the team’s morning practice humid by the time Rain or Shine starts at 10 a.m.
“Ang nire-reklamo niya eh yung init, pero sabi ko lng sa kanya, you just gonna have to get used to it. It’s gonna get hotter kapag dating ng May kasi summer season ang inabutan niya dito,” Belga said. – By Richard Dy
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