Jason Perkins found it difficult to answer when asked how he is embracing a bigger role in Phoenix Super LPG, being the club’s longest-tenured player.
He did clear his voice as he leaned on the microphone during the postgame presser of the Fuel Masters’ breakthrough in the PBA Governors’ Cup, but interim head coach Jamike Jarin instead responded for him.
“We all know Jason is a really hard-working player, a very talented player,” he said. “But the things that you don’t see about him, he’s an inspiration not only to our team but to the general public, especially to the young ones.”
Being the ball club’s main man has become Perkins’ responsibility following the many changes that had occurred over at their side during this season.
Phoenix lost Matthew Wright, the face of the franchise for the longest time, after the Philippine Cup, and would also bid goodbye to head coach Topex Robinson as he decided to go back to the collegiate ranks just last January.
Sean Anthony, one of those who provide a veteran presence to a youth-laden squad, would also be gone as he was traded to NLEX in a three-team deal involving TNT that was pulled off before the conference.
Although there is still Javee Mocon and rookies Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano, such a task has fallen on the lap of Perkins being one of the team’s ‘originals’ — he was drafted fourth overall by the Fuel Masters in 2017.
He may not have been able to provide an answer but Jarin, who’s been with the team since 2020, knows that his star forward is fulfilling that role well.
“He’s the franchise player, right? He’s the franchise player. But he’s the earliest to come in practice,” the seasoned mentor shared. “He’s one of those that would stay longer in practice. And he’s very selfless.
“You know, this is the new generation of players that you really want to have in your team — not only in the PBA, but in your varsity teams.”
In essence, Perkins leads by example. That was evident against the Batang Pier as he starred for his side with 26 points and seven rebounds.
And he came through at a time needed the most, igniting the Fuel Masters’ 8-0 run to reestablish their double-digit lead after seeing what was once a 27-point lead become just five, 92-87, approaching the last seven minutes.
“Me, as an old coach right now, I’m still inspired by the ways he does for himself, for his teammates, and for others,” Jarin said.
Perkins, however, is just glad to have given his coach his first win at the helm after starting the conference with three consecutive losses.
“I’m just trying to stay positive. Also, sometimes when we lose, I tend to be very negative. I’m very happy for Coach Jamike. Coach Jamike is a very positive person, a very uplifting coach,” said the 30-year-old sweet-shooting forward.
“If we lose, he doesn’t go out blaming players, you know. When I come into practice sometimes after a loss, I’m very mad. And then Coach Jamike makes it a point for everyone to be positive, so after losses, we all just look to him.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.