MANILA, Philippines – After a disappointing start to his PBA career, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters rookie Maverick Ahanmisi got on track with an impressive second outing against the Mahindra Enforcers on Sunday, October 25.
Although most of his shots came during garbage time, Ahanmisi finished tied with a game-high of 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Rain or Shine to go with 4 rebounds.
After the game – Rain or Shine’s second win of the PBA season – Ahanmisi admitted being nervous in his team’s first contest against Star.
“Last game, I just had rookie jitters. This game, I was a little more relaxed. As the season goes on, I’ll fall more into the system and my role,” said the 24-year-old from Los Angeles.
“I feel like as the season goes on, it will just get easier for me,” he added.
Ahanmisi’s responsibilities took a heavier burden when it was announced prior to the season that Elasto Painters star Paul Lee would miss two months of action with a slight tear of his ACL.
Lee was the leading local scorer of Rain or Shine last season and the starting point guard – a spot Ahanmisi took during his team’s win against Mahindra.
“It’s big, because obviously he’s one of our star players, if not our star player, and people ask me all the time if there’s more pressure put on my shoulders,” said the third pick in the 2015 PBA Draft.
“I just see it as a big opportunity for me to showcase what I got.”
Talking about draft day, Ahanmisi – who many pegged to go somewhere late in the first round – admitted that he didn’t think he’d get selected as high as he did.
“Draft day, I wasn’t expected to be picked third by Coach Yeng but he obviously saw something in me that I have to prove myself,” he said.
“There is pressure, obviously. Actually, [Assistant] Coach Kaloy is calling my nickname, ‘The Pressure Cooker,'” he added.
Ahanmisi, who won a title with Café France in the PBA D-League, signed a maximum two-year, P4.5 million ($96,000) deal with the Elasto Painters prior to the season.
“I like the pressure. It makes me work harder. Like I said, the team’s doing a good job of trying to relieve the pressure,” he said.
So far, the former University of Minnesota guard said that he’s been privileged to learn from his experienced teammates – including the one whose minutes he’s currently taking.
“It’s a big help. Me, playing under players like Paul [Lee], and Chris Tiu, and people that have been here for a while and they’ve been successful in the league, so for me to play under them, they’re teaching me a lot,” he said.
“That’s what I love about this team….These guys are fun to play with and they’re very welcoming guys.”
With guys like Beau Belga and JR Quinahan, Rain or Shine is also known for being a PBA team that’s keen on pranks.
According to Ahanmisi, his initiation to the team included having to sing and dance on separate occasions. What did he perform? YMCA by the Village People, he said.
“It’s funny, especially JR. He’s just always messing around, but when it comes to basketball, he’s serious. Same with Beau. They’re always joking around and we have a bunch of pranksters on the team – Raymond, everybody,” said the rookie.
“I think that’s what’s good about the team – they know when to have fun and they know when to be serious. I feel like Coach Yeng is a testament to that. His teams are always in the playoffs, and going to the semis, and stuff like that. People wonder how. I feel like it’s the team chemistry, really,” he added.
Ahanmisi and his Elasto Painters are back in action on Wednesday, November 4, against the San Miguel Beermen. – Rappler.com
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