Import Leroy Hickerson did not take long to make his presence felt with Barako Bull.
Just hours after embarking from the plane and still jet-lagged, Hickerson carried the Energy to a come-from-behind 111-107 win over Petron on Friday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-5 balik import fired a game-high 32 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the Energy to their second win against two losses in the import-laced tournament.
Hickerson arrived in the country on Friday morning after a 36-hour flight from Los Angeles and Barako Bull coach Junel Baculi doubted if his new import was in any shape to play.
“When I saw him his eyes were red,” Baculi said.
The import also had no time for even a catnap.
From the airport, Hickerson just dropped his things in his hotel room before attending a Barako Bull practice where Baculi ran through some plays for him. He proceeded to the PBA office to get his height measured then headed straight to the game.
“If he didn’t pass the (6’5”) height requirement, I told my guys we’d play all-Filipino. And they told me they’d be ready,” Baculi said.
His familiarity with the PBA helped him fit in, having played two years ago for Air21.
“It’s good that Leroy has played here before. He knows some players of Petron and ours,” Baculi said.
The Energy trailed most of the way. The Boosters had their biggest lead of 60-46 before Barako clawed back.
Still trailing by seven, 91-84, entering the fourth, the Energy leaned on the clutch performances of Hickerson, Willie Miller, and Ronald Tubid to get back in the game. The trio scored the game's last six points.
The Boosters still led, 107-105 after an Eddie Basden reverse layup with one minute and 19 seconds left in the game before the Energy pulled off the escape act.
“We were just lucky,” Baculi said.
Petron, led by Basden’s 23 points and 12 rebounds, dropped to 3-2.
Barako Bull 111 – Hickerson 32, Kramer 17, Tubid 17, Miller 16, Najorda 10, Allado 9, Weinstein 3, Pennisi 3, Cervantes 2, Gatumbato 2, Sharma 0, Cruz 0
Petron 107 – Basden 23, Washington 23, Lutz 16, Cabagnot 12, Yeo 8, Santos 8, Ildefonso 8, Peña 7, Miranda 2, Reyes 0
Quarter scores: 30-34, 52-64, 84-91, 111-107