GLOBALPORT team manager BJ Manalo said the benching of Rabeh Al-Hussaini in Sunday night’s 80-88 loss to Air21 was part of the 6’8”youthful slotman’s “learning process” as he continues to grow and mature in the pro league.
Emerging from the dugout where the team had an hour-long talk with the coaching staff led by head coach Glen Capacio after the loss, Manalo told Spin.ph that Al-Hussaini’s benching does not necessarily mean they will soon be parting ways with their 6-8 slotman.
“We’re preparing Rabeh for bigger things,” was the first statement Manalo said. “Definitely, we need Rabeh. The decision to bench him was situational.”
Asked if Al-Hussaini’s benching had something to do with rumors that he had a disagreement with several of his teammates including star Gary David, Manalo said, “conflicts are part of the normal life of any professional player.”
David was seen calling out the former Ateneo star for lackluster play during the Batang Pier's loss to Barangay Ginebra in their debut last September 30.
“Di ko naman sinasabing may conflict sa loob, there may be misunderstanding, pero mas gusto ko na may ganito instead of just walking into the bench quiet," said Manalo, a former La Salle gunner. "Because for us, that’s (misunderstanding) part of the growing process of the team since we’re a young team.”
Starting in place of Al-Hussaini against Air21 was 6-5 rookie Jason Deutchman, who delivered decent numbers for the Batang Pier with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist and one block in 36 minutes.
Deutchman said he had no idea why Al-Hussaini was benched during the game.
“I guess it was the coaches’ decision not to let him (Rabeh) play,” said Deutchman.
Without a 6’8” Al-Hussaini to man the shaded lane, the Batang Pier got pounded once again off the boards, 37-52 by the Express, who collected 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively, from Air21 6’8” rookie center Yousif Taha and 6’5” James Sena.
As Global Port takes the day off on Monday, Manalo said the next few days leading to their game against defending Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text will be crucial for the team.
“Itong week na ito, crucial para sa amin. Definitely, Rabeh will play. And again, I would just like to say, losing without fighting is not acceptable. Iyan ang sinabi ko kanina sa dugout. We expect na lahat ng lumalabas sa dugout na ito eh mga competitors," Manalo said.