CHRIS Banchero and Stanley Pringle are expected to carry their personal rivalry over into the PBA as the two are projected to be the top picks in the Annual Rookie Draft set on August 24 at the Robinsons Place in Ermita.
Banchero said he had great hardcourt battles with Pringle during their stint in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) the last two seasons, with the 6-foot- playmaker out of Seattle Pacific University carrying the colors of San Miguel Beer and Pringle suiting up for the Indonesia Warriors.
“There’s a little bit of rivalry that people made because Stanley and his team, the Indonesia Warriors won the ABL title two years ago, then we (Beermen)won last year,” said Banchero in an interview with Spin.ph on Thursday.
But while the limelight is certainly expected to fall on the two highly-touted rookies when the PBA opens its 40th season this October, Banchero was quick to play down the rivalry, pointing out that there are a lot of experienced guards that he’ll have to worry about in the PBA.
“There are so many great players and guards in the PBA like Chris Ross, JV Casio, Paul Lee, and then, every team has a lot of really good guards as well,” said the 25-year-old playmaker, who was born to an Italian father and Filipino mother, the former Jacqueline Guerrero.
So instead of just focusing on Pringle, Banchero said he’s working on making himself better by trying to gain considerable weight the past three months owing to the physical nature of the pro game.
“I’ve been training really hard the past three months, doing different types to try to gain weight because the PBA is physical,” he said.
The two-conference stint he had in the PBA D-League where he played for Boracay Rhum has prepared him mentally and physically for the long, physical grind in the pro, Banchero said.
Banchero admitted having to adjust to the banging and physical plays of the D-League after coming off a two-year stint with the ABL.
“It (D-League) was a different experience for me, going back down to the amateur. But it’s a completely different style because me, I’m more or less coming from an American, or European style and there (at the D-League), there has been a lot of grabbing, so it takes some time to get used to it,” he added.
Banchero said he has no preference on which team he ends up in the PBA, though he was thankful for San Miguel Beer for giving him the chance to play in Asia shortly after his playing years in college.
The soft-spoken Banchero was named Finals MVP of the ABL last year after teaming up with regular season MVP Asi Taulava in helping the Beermen win the title over Pringle and the Warriors.