Ahanmisi would ‘like to fit into’ Black, Meralco’s style of play
MANILA, Philippines – Less than a week away from what’s going to be the most important day of his professional basketball career to date, Maverick Ahanmisi isn’t shy about how his emotions are running.
“I’m nervous, I can’t lie to you,” he told a field of reporters during the Under Armour and SLAM magazine Philippines 2015 PBA Draft suite on Monday, August 17.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m just thankful I can be here,” he later said, “and have the opportunity to play in the PBA.”
Ahanmisi, 24, is a former guard for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers who in 5 days will be selected by a PBA team in this year’s PBA Draft.
After the Filipino-American standout averaged just 3 points and 1.1 rebounds a game in his collegiate career in the States, he took his talents to the Philippines and suited up for Café France in the PBA D-League.
During the recent D-League Foundation Cup, where his team won the conference championship, Ahanmisi averaged 14 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.7 steals a game – impressive numbers for someone who stands at just 6-feet tall.
“I think being a point guard,” he said about the position he plays, “Rick Pitino and his son (Richard) have really taught me to really see the floor well. They really taught me to see the floor well and use pick-and-rolls well.” (READ: Maverick Ahanmisi is following the path of Stanley Pringle)
The younger Pitino was Ahanmisi’s coach in University of Minnesota, who was quoted telling CBS Minnesota about Maverick: “However long he plays, hopefully he plays overseas, but then after that, he’s going to be a very successful person.”
Ahanmisi plans to apply what he learned from the 32-year-old Pitino in the PBA. Rather than modelling his game after another player – like a Stanley Pringle or Jayson Castro, both of whom he resembles athletic ability with – he says he hopes to “bring my own uniqueness to make me stand out.”
Another thing that PBA fans can expect out of him is that he plans to prioritize winning over getting to pad his stat sheet.
“For me, it’s all about winning,” said Ahanmisi, whose mother Marissa was from Pangasinan, “so I feel like, for me, it’s playing for a team that’s going to contend, but regardless, if I get drafted by a team that can’t, I’m going to try to do my best to help that team be a contender.”
The California native, who as a senior in Golden Valley High School averaged 20.2 points a game, said he doesn’t have a specific team that he would want to draft him.
Though when asked if there was a PBA franchise he feels he would fit best in, his answer was the Meralco Bolts.
“Meralco, because of Norman Black,” said Ahanmisi, who also graduated with a degree in Human Resources Development. “My family knows him; they’ve watched him play.”
Black was a former two-time PBA Best Import and currently an 11-time PBA champion head coach. His Bolts made the playoffs in each PBA conference last season but the farthest they reached was only the semifinals in the Commissioner’s Cup.
“I can just see by his coaching and by his style and things like that, I’d like to fit into that kind of style of play.”
The Bolts own the fourth and seventh picks in the 2015 PBA Draft. Although loading up on their big men depth is their top priority, another area of need is also picking up a point guard.
With the recent signing of the returning Rabeh Al-Hussaini and having two selections, Meralco will most likely get to choose a PG with one of their picks, and many pundits have Ahanmisi as the best point guard on the draft board.
If Ahanmisi does end up in Meralco, he could be playing back-up to the returning Jimmy Alapag. The PBA legend, however, is already 37 years old, which means Ahanmisi could take over the starting job in a season or two while spending the opening chapter of his career learning from one of the game’s greats.
“That’s definitely a big thing,” he said about Alapag being in Meralco. “I’ve watched him play for Gilas and knowing that he’s from the States as well, he can help me a lot with transitioning from the D-League to the California game to the PBA game.” – Rappler.com
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