With the Star Hotshots already ahead by a huge margin against the Globalport Batang Pier in the final five minutes of their game last Friday, head coach Jason Webb fielded his younger bench guys to give them some exposure.
Norbert Torres, Jake Pascual, Yousef Taha, Mark Cruz, and Ronald Pascual formed the five on the floor for the Hotshots. It ended up a sloppy close-out for the squad, who went 2-for-9 in the stretch and were outscored by the Batang Pier by six points. But what was more important for the younger guys in the 127-100 win was to get a feel of the game and get more confidence going.
“Anytime you get a chance to be on the floor, it is a learning experience. I always take that and give it my best effort,” Torres, who played in only his fourth game of the conference, said.
Torres finished with two points and two rebounds in five minutes, the most he has logged in the conference. The eighth overall pick by the Hotshots in the 2015 PBA Draft added he is still adjusting to the PBA style of play, and getting exposure — even if it is just for a small stretch — will surely aid in the process.
“I am still absorbing it all, taking it all in. The defense is still an adjustment for me so I am focusing on that,” Torres said. “I guess everyone is just talented. This is the PBA now. Everyone is talented, there is something different to bring. This is the best of the best.”
Jake Pascual, who was acquired by the Hotshots via a trade during the off-season, sees the exposure as a way to help Star’s main front-court players.
“Malaking tulong yun para makapagpahinga rin si Ping (Marc Pingris) o yung import. Unti-unti yung (minutes) yung mga small things katulad noon, kailangan tanggapin na yun ang role mo,” the 24-year-old Pascual said.
The 6-foot-4 forward finished with two points and three rebounds in the victory. In the conference, averages 4.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 10.4 minutes/game. Pascual shared that even before the season began, the management had already told him about his role in the team, and he is embracing it whole-heartedly.
“Tanggapin lang yung role as a team. Bago kami dumating dito may core na yung team. Yung role namin, support lang sa stars. Pero ready naman kami lagi eh,” he said. “More on depensa pa rin ako. Lalo na ngayon, dine-designate ako sa import. Wala akong sinasayang na oras sa practice, nakikipagusap ako sa mga teammates.”
Though Pascual is not getting most of the front-court minutes right now in a loaded Hotshots frontline, he still works double-time in practice as he waits patiently for breaks yet to come.
“Sina coach, sinasabi nila I am still young, i-look up ko lang daw yung mga (veterans). Sila nag-e-extra work rin so dapat ikaw hindi ka rin magrelax even if nasa supporting cast ka lang. Dapat gagawa ka rin ng para makasabay sa kanila,” he said.
“At least nakikita nila hardwork ko at may nakakapansin kahit papano.”