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Christmas putting quiet PBA debut behind as Ginebra awaits in playoffs

MANILA, Philippines – Rakeem Christmas admitted his PBA debut for Magnolia that ended in a lopsided loss to TNT was far from what he wanted for himself.

The former NBA player, who played for the Indiana Pacers for two years, was limited to 8 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists as the Hotshots absorbed an 83-98 loss to the KaTropa in the Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday, July 17. 

"I'm not satisfied with that game at all," said Christmas, who replaced James Farr as team reinforcement. 

"Just have to get that out of the way and improve in the next game, get ready for the playoffs. Just got to put that behind me and just move on." 

His relatively quiet performance, though, was understandable considering the last time he played was last year, back when he suited up for the Henan Roaring Elephants in the National Basketball League of China. 

"I haven't played in a while. Just got to put this game behind me and just got to get ready for the next one." 

Christmas will have to fast-track his adjustment to the Magnolia system since the next time he will play is the quarterfinals, where he will face reigning Best Import Justin Brownlee and defending champion Barangay Ginebra. 

Unlike the Hotshots, who will enter the playoffs on a four-game skid, the Gin Kings are coming off a 3-game winning streak. 

"They told me they're a very good team so I'm going to go back to the hotel, eat, watch some YouTube and film on them and just get ready," he said. 

Fortunately, Christmas can learn some valuable lessons regarding the tricks of the trade in the PBA from San Miguel import Chris McCullough, who was his college teammate at the Syracuse University. 

"He's been telling me about the league and all the things to look out for. It's great having him out here because there's always someone you can talk to." 

Christmas has a few days to prepare before Magnolia and Ginebra tangle in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinals duel at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, July 20. Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.

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