HENRY Walker left the PBA hearing talks about needing to be less selfless and more aggressive. Thankfully for his new team NLEX, he listened.
Walker was in attack mode all game in his return to the PBA, leading the Road Warriors to a 96-90 victory over Blackwater on Saturday in the Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The former Alaska import, who averaged just 21.6 points, along with 9.4 boards, 7 assists, and 1.1 steals in 38.1 minutes in his first PBA stint, more than doubled his previous norm with 44 points in his debut for the Road Warriors.
“Everybody was talking about how unselfish I was and I needed to be more aggressive, so I just wanted to come out and be aggressive for my team and see what I can do,” Walker said.
The NBA veteran did most of his work early as he poured in 24 points in the first quarter and wound up scoring almost half of the Road Warriors’ output, on top of six boards, two assists, and two steals in 41 minutes.
But Walker was quick to point out that his output had more to do with the change in roles he needs to fill with the Road Warriors. Unlike the Aces bannered by a veteran squad with plenty of scorers when he came in, Walker felt he needs to produce more for a youth-laden NLEX team that’s seeking to enter elite status in the league.
“I was more of a facilitator (at Alaska) and we had guys who were leading and were already comfortable on what they were doing,” Walker said. “Just here, we got a bunch of young guys and me and Asi (Taulava) and Enrico (Villanueva), we just got to be aggressive and assert ourselves and lead by example.”
Walker said the rule changes in the PBA as far as physicality has also allowed him to score easier.
“The league has gotten a little softer, I guess,” the 6-foot-4 ½ American wingman said. “From when I was here the first time, it was a lot more physical in the post. It’s easier for guys to score now.”
“Other than that, the players have gotten better and to me, it’s more competitive,” he added.
But if they don’t put more attention on him defensively, expect Walker to put up the same massive production.
“If they don’t double team me, (expect to see this production more often)," Walker beamed. "I’m pretty sure guys are going to just let me play at my pace. I think they’re going to take the ball out of my hands.”
“But hopefully if that happens, then another person on my team gets it going and has a big game,” he added. “I’m not against sharing the wealth. You, guys, know I’ll pass it if I have to.”