DUBAI – Jason Brickman granted a short interview to SPIN.ph as the Mighty Sports delegation returned to its hotel for dinner on the fifth floor after a short bus ride from Shabab Al Ahli Club where it hacked out a 96-89 win over Homenetmen of Lebanon late Sunday night.
Then he immediately headed to the buffet table.
“I’m starving,” the soft-spoken point guard said with a smile, probably echoing the sentiment of the whole team after its first hard-earned win of the Dubai International Championship.
But during the game, Brickman made sure his teammates were satisfied with his pinpoint passing and steady playmaking all-game long that kept Mighty under control in the face of a rally by the reigning Lebanese league champions.
“It’s just my job as the point guard to stay level and not get rattled, and control the tempo of the game,” the Filipino-American court general said after finishing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, five assists, and one steal against two turnovers in 32 minutes.
“If they’re making a run, try to make sure we get a good shot every time down, and get these guys in a good position to score,” he added. “I thought we did a good job of closing out the game today.”
Mighty assistant coach Jong Uichico was impressed by the exploits of Brickman, who earlier bared his intention to apply for the next PBA Draft.
“He played a great game tonight,” the nine-time PBA champion coach said. “He can really play. He’s smart.”
“Yes, he’s short,” he added of Brickman, who looks shorter than his listed height of 6’0”. “But he makes it up with his toughness and his brains. I was really surprised with his game tonight.”
Brickman has long established his name in the amateur ranks since his college days with Long Island University, leading the NCAA Division I in assists for two straight years, the last his senior year in 2014 when he dished out 10 a game, and is one of only four members of the 1,000-assist club in Division I history.
After playing in Russia and Germany after college, Brickman, found himself in Southeast Asia with the Westports Malaysia Dragons and Mono Vampire, which he guided to titles in the ABL and Thai League.
And Uichico believes Brickman is poised to play in another, more prestigious part of the region.
“I think he’s PBA-ready,” Uichico said. “He’s got a lot of experience in him and this is the first time I’ve seen him. I’ve seen him in Malaysia and Thailand, but this is the first time I’ve really seen him na kasama siya.”
Asked if Brickman reminds him of a PBA player, Uichico compared him to a longtime San Miguel Beer ward.
“With his smarts…hindi siya ganun kabilis, pero very efficient ang laro niya, so he would be like Olsen, I think, if there’s any comparison, because mautak, galing pumasa, pag-libre, shoot,” Uichico said, referring to his premier pass-first playmaker in Olsen Racela.
“Mas stocky siya kesa kay Olsen, yun lang diperensya,” he added.
Mighty coach Charles Tiu did remind everyone that Brickman is no spring chicken as he’s turning 28 on November 19 around the time the rookie draft comes.
Uichico, though, believes teams that need point guard will take that risk and turn to Brickman.
“Kailangan he’s surrounded also by good people, kasi hindi siya yung Jayson Castro. He’s Olsen Racela where he can feed the good guys and his teammates,” the veteran coach pointed out.
For now, Brickman continues to showcase his skills in front of OFWs in Dubai.
“I know a lot of people, Filipinos are going to watch, so it’s a great opportunity to show my skills, and show what I can do against other talented players in this international tournament,” he said. “I’m just excited to play with these guys, and I’m just having fun.”