Curtis Kelly gave a harsh assessment on himself regarding his PBA debut on Saturday night — a debut that he will remember for the wrong reasons as he and the Magnolia Hotshots bowed to Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in overtime.
The 30-year-old finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block, but those numbers were overshadowed by the way he shot from the foul line as he made just three of the 12 shots he had been awarded.
“My free throws are terrible,” lamented Kelly, the replacement for Vernon Macklin, moments after their 96-99 loss at the SMART Araneta Coliseum. “I have no excuse, I’m just missing them. It was a tough night from the free throw line.
“Those misses are inexcusable. I have to get better at that.”
The Elasto Painters may have had given him a rude welcome, but Kelly takes the loss in stride. Having had witnessed and experienced Rain or Shine’s grit on both ends of the floor, the seven-year pro says that he will get better from there.
“I take it with the best that I can do. To the best of my ability. We played against the number one team tonight, they played like the number one team. They impressed me. A lot of big guys, a lot of big bodies. Very physical and very hard,” said Kelly, a 6-foot-10 center out of Bronx, New York.
“I think I’ll get better.”
Sour debut aside, Kelly shared that he’s having a good time with the Hotshots, being grateful for welcoming him warmly. The Kansas State product arrived in the country Monday and got measured at the PBA office Thursday.
“We have a good relationship. It’s already a family here,” he shared. “They did a good job of blending me in, opening arms to me. I’m like the distant cousin that came from afar to play with them. The love is real here and it’s much appreciated.
“I’m enjoying it,” added Kelly. “There’s a lot of good players here, import and locals. I’m impressed with the locals, they play tough and hard. The fans love the basketball here, which makes me more hyped and excited.”
The 2018 Commissioner’s Cup for Magnolia is still a long journey as they still have six games left in the eliminations. With the Hotshots now at 3-2, Kelly is nothing but determined to help his team reach the playoffs.
“I don’t want to be eliminated. I wanna be in the playoffs,” hoped Kelly, who last played in Maccabi Kiryat Gat B.C. in the Israeli League.
“That’s my goal. If I want to achieve that goal, I have to be better and my teammates will follow.”