The scene outside GlobalPort’s dugout, after a 91-89 win over the Star Hotshots, Tuesday mirrors the typical Filipino family reunion, at least for Steve Thomas.
Before exiting the Mall of Asia Arena corridor, a man approached him and asked, “Steve! Do you still remember me?”
To which he responded, shaking hands with the man he met in the archipelago seven years ago, and spending time on where’d-all-the-years-go moments.
After all the trips elsewhere, the 32-year-old center is just glad to return to a special place he calls second home.
“This is like my second home. The PBA is the best league in Southeast Asia,” Thomas said, relating how easy it was for him to decide to take the interim post.
Thomas played 43:18 minutes and although clearly losing the athleticism and explosion he was once known in 2008 for the Air21 Express which he led to a finals appearance, the 6-foot-9 big tried to make up for it using other aspects of the game.
Thomas, who played in the ASEAN Basketball League for several seasons and was fresh off a stint in the Basketball Thailand Super League last week, finished with 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists although struggled from the floor (4-for-11).
GlobalPort head coach Pido Jarencio also praised Thomas for being professional, even if he knows the team is awaiting the arrival of Jarried Famous anytime soon.
“Nag-adjust siya maski kadadarating lang. Malaking tulong. Professional yung tao eh. Bilib ako sa kanya dahil alam niyang one week lang siya dito,” Jarencio said.
Thomas knows his stay is limited, but is still grateful for the opportunity to reunite with a country sharing the same passion.
“It’s deeper than basketball. They are like family to me. I would love to [play for another week]. They have the best fans and the best crowd,” Thomas said.