Mahindra’s newest acquisition Jason Ballesteros hadn’t even expected to be fielded in by the Enforcers on Monday night, but he ended up happy as he was able to make an impact for his new team right away.
Ballesteros, who had been acquired by the Enforcers from the Blackwater Elite for young center Kyle Pascual, scored five points, hauled down five rebounds, and swatted a shot in just less than nine minutes of play. Mahindra went on to defeat Alaska, 102-94, to improve their record to 4-4.
After the game, Mahindra associate head coach Chito Victolero said the main reason behind getting the services of Ballesteros was to add ceiling to the Enforcers’ frontline and have a big who would focus on protecting the rim.
“Wala kaming problema kay Kyle. Yung player na yun may magandang attitude, work ethic. The problem siguro is, Jason, wala kaming ganoong player eh. We need the height, rebounding, and especially intimidation and shot blocking,” Victolero said, adding that Pascual has even been present in team practices even if he already knew of the trade.
“He (Ballesteros) helped us a lot on the bench, especially when (Augustus Gilchrist) is resting. At least may ceiling pa rin kami.”
Ballesteros, who has averaged 2.2 PPG and 4.3 RPG in a five-year PBA career, is easily the tallest local the franchise has signed. His entry to the system also allows Aldrech Ramos to concentrate on being a stretch forward while not having to shoulder all of the load as a center.
Ramos dropped 25 points in the game, including 16 in the fourth quarter where Mahindra took control.
Ballesteros, who had spent his last two seasons playing for Blackwater, is thankful to have his new team define his role and trust him right away.
“Kinausap din ako ni coach, kaya daw nila ako kinuha is kulang sila sa depensa, sa big na ginagawa yun. So kinuha nila ako, wala siya pakealam sa opensa, basta makakadepensa daw ako ng maayos,” Ballesteros shared.
“Welcome na welcome din ako sa kanila. Nagpapasalamat rin ako dahil kagaya ngayon, nakaka-isang practice pa lang ako pero ginamit na ako sa laro. May tiwala talaga sa coach sa akin.”
The seventh overall pick in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft, Ballesteros also looks forward to being involved more on offense, taking note of the team’s no-superstar approach.
“Dito kasi, walang star player, so yung bola, iikot talaga. So ready lang ako sa ilalim sa mga pasa-pasa,” he said.
As Mahindra continue to try and make significant strides in the league in only their second season, the team have added another good piece. Though Ballesteros is no top-caliber center, having a extra serviceable big to alter shots and protect the rim will surely help the system.