MANILA, Philippines – From an NCAA Division I school to the Philippine Basketball Association. That’s the trail 2014 first overall draft pick Stanley Pringle blazed as he now enjoys 37 minutes of action, 17 points, and 4 assists a game so far with Globalport.
Now, another player is down the same path and hoping to find similar success.
Filipino-American Maverick Ahanmisi, 23, is a former guard for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers who is now trying to make a name for himself with the Cafe France Bakers in the PBA D-League.
The 6-foot guard decided he’d try his luck here in the Philippines after rounding up his collegiate career with averages of just 3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists.
“I know basketball is really big out here so I just took the opportunity to come out here,” shared Ahanmisi, whose mother Marissa hailed from Pangasinan.
Just like Pringle, who graduated from Penn State University, Ahanmisi hopes he’ll land a team in the PBA, a league he’s already familiar with.
“After college, I’ve been here (in the Philippines) and the PBA, and I’ve heard about it my whole college career.”
Ahanmisi’s college coach was Richard Pitino, son of legendary coach Rick Pitino. He says a lot of what he knows came from him.
“He’s helped me a lot and he’s taught me a lot about defense and just the game of basketball in general. He’s a great NBA mind,” Ahanmisi shared. “He’s helped me especially with the point guard position and knowing what spots to go to on the floor. And being a leader on the bench as well and helping out my teammates.”
Pitino hailed Ahanmisi for his stable performance in the final games of his last season with the Gophers. In one of his last few games, Ahanmisi scored his career-high 21 points.
“However long he plays, hopefully he plays overseas, but then after that, he’s going to be a very successful person,” Pitino was quoted as saying by CBS Minnesota.
Ahanmisi and Pringle played in the same Big Ten conference but never played against each other since Pringle graduated when Ahanmisi entered his freshman year. But ever since high school, Ahanmisi already knew about Pringle and watched him play.
Both of them also won the National Invitation Tournament at one point in college.
“It’s kind of the same path,” Ahanmisi said.
Despite the similarities in their careers, Ahanmisi and Pringle vastly differ in experience levels.
Unlike Pringle, Ahanmisi did not play in the international circuit. And he is much younger than the 27-year old Pringle who played in the ASEAN Basketball League and led the Indonesia Warriors to a title in 2012. (RELATED: Stanley Pringle has makings of a leader, says former coach)
But Ahanmisi does see Pringle as one of the impressive PBA players and, more than that, as an inspiration he can emulate.
“Me and him came from the same conference in the States. I’ve been watching him. I like his playing style,” he explained.
“He’s somebody I look up to just because we come from the same kind of background in the States. Hopefully I end up playing like him and kind of molding myself to become as well as he is in the PBA.”
Though Ahanmisi admitted the PBA is not quite on his radar just yet. He is putting all of his focus on taking Cafe France far in the ongoing 2015 Aspirants Cup conference.
“I’m not sure. Right now I’m just focusing on helping my team win games but obviously that’s my ultimate goal.”
Ahanmisi is off to a great start as he led Cafe France in his debut with 11 points, 4 rebounds and two assists for the team’s first win on opening day Monday October 27. He shot 3-of-4 from the field in that game, which included an efficient two-of-two from long range. He later scored 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Bakers’ second win Thursday, November 6.
“Playing in the Philippines is something new. It was a fun experience,” he said.
If his early D-Leage experience is any indication, it looks like the Philippine hoops style fits him nicely with his natural proclivity for rugged, physical basketball.
“Just the physicality,” he described the primary difference between basketball in the D-League and in the NCAA. “They let a lot of more things go here. But I like that style of play. You get to play defense scrappier and I feel like that it fits my game really well.” – Rappler.com
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