Five years ago, import Paul Harris wore Tropang TNT’s blue and yellow uniform and went up against Barangay Ginebra’s “Fast and Furious” backcourt duo of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand.
An athletic wingman who can score in bunches, Harris led TNT to the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup championship after beating Ginebra, 4-2 in the Finals.
On Wednesday though, Harris faced his former team for the first time in a practice game and had that weird feeling facing TNT forward Harvey Carey and seeing Larry Fonacier sitting on the bench.
“Honestly it’s a little weird, a little different seeing me and Harvey playing together before,” Harris told FOX Sports after dropping 39 points as he led Ginebra past his former team, 127-114 on Wednesday.
“And then I see Larry on the sidelines. I used to swing the ball to Larry and say ‘Larry shoot! Larry shoot!’ But hey, life changes, you got to be ready for adjustments all the time and I’m with Ginebra now. I’m thankful for the opportunity and try to make the best of it.”
The 6-foot-4 Harris said from someone who relied a lot on athleticism years ago, he is now a more “cerebral player” as he tries to read the situation of the game.
“Over the years, you learn more about the game and the game comes more slower to you because I’m a better thinker than when I was young, say when I was 25 or 24, just playing off my athleticism,” shared the former Syracuse standout.
“Now I’m smarter and I know more about the game. I’m wiser now for sure, but I don’t take away some of the good years I have with TNT for sure.”
Harris said he knows well Ginebra’s long championships drought in the PBA. But instead of feeling the pressure, his goal is to work hard and make sure everybody in the team work together to reach the ultimate dream of finally winning a league championship.
“I know the history (of Ginebra). It’s not gonna be easy because the PBA is a strong league and they have very very great imports this conference,” explained Harris, who’ll be in his 4th PBA tour of duty.
“My vision when I came here was to not win the Best Import. I’m not here for that but to try to help this team and give my all for this organization,and help it become an elite team,” he added.
The 31-year-old Harris will join Ginebra’s early morning practice on Thursday before leaving for the United States in the afternoon as he prepares for his wedding late this week.
He’s expected to return on July 6 for Ginebra. – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava