After first pro experience in PBA, James White off to chase NBA dream

Jane Bracher
After first pro experience in PBA, James White off to chase NBA dream
James White leaves the PBA with a wiser gleam in his eyes

ANTIPOLO, Philippines – James White walked into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) a wide-eyed 22-year-old, unsure of what to expect in his first pro stint out of college and as a go-to import overseas no less. 

Nearly 3 months later, he strides out as a 23-year-old, still wide-eyed but with a wiser gleam in his eyes. Now he intends to chase his NBA dream. 

“Hopefully, God-willing, play in the NBA. That’s my main goal,” White said, sharing what’s next for him after the Mahindra Enforcer exited with a 105-82 quarterfinal drubbing from semifinals-bound Meralco Saturday, September 25. 

“Whatever opportunity presents itself that’d be fine. But my main goal is to play in the NBA.”

White said there are already “quite a few teams looking” at him but can’t divulge who those teams are. He doesn’t expect to make it back in time for NBA training camp so expects a “D-League affiliation or just coming over to the team signing as an unrestricted free agent.”

“Right now I don’t know. It’s in God’s hands. I can’t predict the future. But I’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ll be going back to the US. Going back home, visit family first.” 

The 6-foot-8 big man was fresh out of his college basketball career with Georgia Tech when he flew to the Philippines to join Mahindra. He went undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft but has since averaged more than 24 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks in 12 PBA games played. 

White, though the youngest import in age and experience in the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup, led Mahindra to a franchise-first playoff berth with his athleticsm and dependable leadership. 

(READ: James White, Mahindra’s rookie import, adjusts to life as go-to player)

The team’s playoff spotlight was short-lived, but it was an emotional loss for White nonetheless. 

“Every loss when it comes to the end of the season is emotional. But I think the emotional part was just I built a bond with the teammates and coaches and even management, of them taking that chance of bringing a 22-year-old out here,” he told reporters after the game. 

“Just giving me that opportunity is a blessing from God and I’m just thankful for them, I’m sad to see it end.”

White was seen crying after the loss that signaled the end of the road for his PBA conference. But when asked about it, he laughed and said “no comment.” 

The young American pro player found a home with his Mahindra “brothers” and has every intention of keeping in touch. 

“This is a family. They told me that right when I got here and I believe that ’til the day I leave,” he shared. “Them embracing me like that, it means a lot. I can’t describe the feelings that I was going through but it was emotional because I was thankful for them and the opportunity they gave me.” –

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