MANILA, Philippines – Pascal Siakam continues his meteoric rise through the NBA ranks.
Just 3 years removed from see-sawing between the NBA and the G League, the 25-year-old forward led the Toronto Raptors to their biggest win so far in franchise history.
The leading candidate for Most Improved Player all but cemented his claim on the award after dropping 32 points on a staggering 14-of-17 clip (82%), 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the Raptors’ 118-109 win over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
All this, Siakam shared post-game, was for his late father, whom he lost in 2014 to a tragic car crash.
“I know people always usually tell me that I know he’s proud of you, and I kind of want to hear it from his mouth and I think it would be really cool,” he shared in the post-game presser. “But for me like I always say, man, it’s bigger than basketball, and every night that I go out there, I have a bigger purpose, and I play for something bigger than just basketball.”
“And I think that’s what makes it special, that every night I’m out there, no matter the result, no matter how many points I score, I’m playing for something bigger than myself,” he continued.
Siakam lost his father just as his NBA career was starting to kick off from the ground. Per a report by ESPN, he wasn’t even able to attend his funeral at the time because he was in the crucial stages of securing a US visa.
Fast forward to the present, and the agile 6-foot-9 rising star has joined elite company in basketball’s biggest stage.
Siakam is now one of 6 players to record at least 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 made threes in an NBA Finals game. The other 5? Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
But as emotional as this Game 1 win can be, the pride of Cameroon knows that the road ahead is still long and treacherous.
“I think for us we just, we know the team we’re playing, we’re playing an amazing team,” he said. “They’re the champions and we just got to be ready, we got to be ready.”
“We won Game 1. We came out with a lot of – we were very aggressive on defense, and try and make it tough for the players to find open shots, but we know that it’s Game 1,” he continued. “They’re going to come out and make adjustments and we got to be ready for that.” – Rappler.com