Sophomore guard Brian Heruela has earned the respect of the PBA after an impressive rookie season under the Blackwater Elite, where he averaged 10.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 5.2 APG during the 2014-15 season, although the Elite failed to advance to any playoffs.
This year, via a handful of off-season negotiations, the 5-foot-10 guard landed a spot with the San Miguel Beermen, where he assumed backup duties behind Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross.
Though Heruela’s production dipped to only 1.3 PPG in 10.8 minutes/game prior to Wednesday, he says he has adjusted quickly to the role.
“For me whatever (time) they put me in, I just try to help whatever way I can, and we have a really talented team and a deep bench so just try to take advantage of the opportunity,” Heruela said after San Miguel dispatched Mahindra, 102-86.
“I have adjusted to my role and regardless right now of whatever minutes (I play), my mindset is now trying to give my all every time I am on the floor to help the team.”
Heruela hasn’t lost his explosiveness when on the floor, and it showed when he earned the spotlight Wednesday night.
Beermen head coach Leo Austria fielded him for over 21 minutes and the playmaker repaid the trust with a good all-around performance of 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
“I am happy our second group stepped up because our starters were not playing well in the first half. Maybe due to complacency. I didn’t want us to get embarrassed (by Mahindra),” Austria said.
For Heruela, what is even more exciting now is a realistic shot at winning the championship, given a powerhouse lineup with lots of chemistry and experience.
“I am excited about the opportunity,” Heruela shared. “Just thinking about it, it will be the first time in my young (PBA) career to be in the playoffs, so right now I am just trying to prepare. All of us are preparing just to take it one game at a time, be mentally tough and physically ready.”
He added that with the presence of more experienced players, he has learned how to adjust quickly and develop more toughness on and off the court. Now, he hopes to make the most out of the moment and get a championship ring.
“Our team is full of leaders and veterans. If new guys come in, they teach us a lot and we just follow their lead. They’ve been there and done that, they have won two championships last season, and we hope to build upon that and hope for the best.”
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