Sensing that the team needed a change, the Globalport Batang Pier replaced import Brian Williams with old reliable Calvin Warner just two games into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Williams averaged 16 PPG and 16.5 RPG in two games before Warner, who appeared for the Batang Pier in four games last season, suited up against Tropang TNT last week.
“May pangangailangan kami sa team, na kay Brian, kulang… si Calvin, yung desire nandoon, yung intensity nandoon,” head coach Pido Jarencio said.
Warner had 11 points, 21 rebounds, and two assists in Globalport’s 108-101 win over TNT. While not the dominant scoring type, the 35-year-old reinforcement may just be the missing piece the team needs.
Warner is an excellent reader and is also very vocal on the floor, directing his teammates on both ends on the floor. Being such a high IQ glue guy is something he takes pride in.
“I take very much pride in it. I have always been a vocal leader. I’ve always been a leader not just by experience but by showing it on and off the court. In practice, in conditioning, in everything,” Warner shared. “I think that is the big part in playing team basketball as an import. You don’t just come here just for stats or to score. I don’t care about stats. I care about winning.”
Jarencio lauded the returning Warner for being a professional despite having to travel for 30 hours to get to the Philippines. Warner though, said has kept up with all the action here, making the adjustment not as difficult as it seemed to be.
“I keep up with the Philippines, I check online, I watch because I like the league. I always keep up with former leagues I’ve played in and former teammates. I like to study basketball. I focus on that. Hopefully one day, I would make it back, and I am here,” Warner, who last played in the Dominican Republic, said.
Terrence Romeo, who led Globalport in that outing with 33 points, also spoke highly about Warner’s ability to read and make smart decisions on the floor.
“Magaling din yung import namin. Magaling siya as a teammate and hindi niya hinahanap yung (scoring) niya. Pag may opportunity lang. Tsaka magaling siya mag-read ng depensa. Medyo may familiarity na kami sa isa’t isa,” Romeo shared.
While Warner has not yet adjusted completely, familiarity with the team has given him an extra boost.
“I just tried to fight with my team and give it all I can give it today. I think it is a good advantage to come back, like coming back to a place you know. I know the system, I know team, the coaches. It’s an easy transition for me. I wish I have more time to get adjusted and just get my mind right. It doesn’t really matter who is on my team, I fit in,” he said.
“So as you see, I like to pass a lot and when you involve your team like that, everybody is happy, everybody is comfortable, it makes their job easier. Same thing with me, they make my job easier. I am not that player who says give me the ball every time. I don’t play like that.”
It is also clear Warner has a goal to fulfill and he wants the entire team to experience something they have not yet accomplished.
“I am very happy. I am excited to be back and show what I can do again. Hopefully we go farther this time and go to the playoffs to have a longer experience here,” he said.
Decisions like what Globalport did are risky, and might break a team. While it is still early in the conference, the Batang Pier might have been left scrambling to restore order if Warner disappointed.
But it was a risk worth taking, and looking ahead, the Batang Pier might have just found the missing piece to the puzzle.