BASED on first impression alone, Chris Ellis has a nice feeling about Gabe Freeman.
Freeman, the third import to play for Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, played his first practice with the Gin Kings just hours after arriving in an early-morning flight from Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday.
Despite coming off a long-haul flight, the two-time Best Import awardee did enough to boost Ellis' confidence ahead of Freeman's debut in a crucial game against Rain or Shine on Easter Sunday.
Ellis said Freeman's athleticism and aggressiveness will be a huge help as the crowd favorites look to turn around what had been a damned campaign so far in the midseason conference.
“He’s very athletic and he really looks to score, looks very aggressive and goes for the rebound,” Ellis told Spin.ph after the Gin Kings’ practice on Wednesday morning at the Green Meadows gym in Libis, Quezon City.
Ellis is confident the former Costa Mesa Junior College standout, who had stints in the PBA with San Miguel and Barako Bull and with the Philippine Patriots and San Miguel Beermen in the ABL, can easily fit in due to his familiarity with the PBA brand of play.
“Based on what I saw, he just has a way of going to the free throw line. He’s pretty good at baiting (his defender) and I think he only took a couple of jump shots,” added the 6-foot-4 Ginebra forward.
The Gin Kings, though, are careful not to raise too much expectations after their experiences with previous imports Leon Rodgers, who couldn't hit his shot consistently enough, and six-year NBA veteran Josh Powell, who played just two games before leaving to play in the NBA.
In the case of Freeman, Ginebra needs him to deliver right away if the team hopes to go deep in the playoffs.
A loss to Rain or Shine will relegate Ginebra to the eighth seeding and a quarterfinal showdown with twice-to-beat top seed Talk 'N Text, which has yet to drop a game in this conference.
On the other hand, a win would lift the Gin Kings to as high as No. 6 and a place in one of two best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs.