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From teammates to rivals: Henderson-Niles, Dozier meet in PBA finals

Naveen Ganglani

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From teammates to rivals: Henderson-Niles, Dozier meet in PBA finals
Former college teammates Rob Dozier and Pierre Henderson-Niles will be on opposite sides when Alaska meets Rain or Shine in the Commissioner's Cup Finals

MANILA, Philippines – Former college basketball teammates Pierre Henderson-Niles and Rob Dozier, who are the imports for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Alaska Aces respectively, are set to face each other when both teams battle in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

Game 1 of the best-of-7 series begins Friday, May 6, with each recruit hoping to end a string of consecutive finals defeats for both PBA teams.

The two played NCAA (US) Division 1 hoops as teammates for the Memphis Tigers, who even made the NCAA Championship Game in 2008 and lost to the Kansas Jayhawks.

When asked during the finals press conference at the PBA Cafe in Metrowalk on Thursday if they imagined being in the situation they’re in now after the events of their college careers, the duo agreed: no.

“Definitely not,” said Dozier, who is in his third tour of duty as Alaska’s import. Dozier is averaging 18.4 points plus 12 rebounds a game this conference. 

“It’s not something I saw given my situation and I don’t think it’s something he saw. When he got here we did have conversations about it and it’s here… Hopefully we win.”

When it was Henderson-Niles’ turn to have the microphone, he stated: “What [Dozier] said. We talked about it last week, how we hoped to see each other in the finals.”

When Alaska beat Rain or Shine in the elimination round, both imports weren’t playing for their teams yet. 

Henderson-Niles has actually played only 7 games for Rain or Shine this conference with averages of only 12 points and 11.4 rebounds a game – not the usual numbers you expect from an import. 

Nonetheless, the Elasto Painters are 6-1, including winning 3 times against the San Miguel Beermen in the semis, since the 6-foot-8, 28-year-old player joined the team.

“I think it’s going to be an aggressive matchup,” Henderson-Niles said about the series, “because the last finals we were in was in college, [it was the] championship game [loss] Kansas. So I think we both want this bad. It’s going to be a good matchup.”

Dozier added, “What he said pretty much. It’s going to be an aggressive game.” –

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