DAVID Simon is aware he has a big shoe to fill in coming as the new import of defending PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion Tropang TNT.
The 33-year-old Simon arrived in the country on Monday afternoon specifically with the mission to take over the post vacated by the banished Ivan Johnson, the talented but temperamental import who steered the Texters all the way to the championship of the mid-season tournament last year.
Although the native of Vernon Hills, Illinois is not about to be hard on himself, he said he’ll try his best to duplicate the feat of his predecessor.
“Yeah, I guess so,” he said when asked if there’s pressure to match what Johnson accomplished with the franchise before.
“Everybody was telling me about winning the championship last year, and that he (Ivan) was part of the team,” added Simon. “I just want to come in and try my best. That’s what I’ll gonna do.”
The Texters’ practice session at the Moro Lorenzo gym had to be moved from afternoon to evening to allow Simon a glimpse of how the reigning champions do their thing.
“It was good. All the guys are really nice and the coaches are great,” said Simon, who admitted having known veteran teammate Kelly Williams way back in college. “I just tried to walk in with the plays and learn it quick.”
As a first timer in the country, Simon is impressed at having seen a lot of good players around, especially with the Gilas Pilipinas team practicing with the Texters simultaneously at the adjacent court of the gym located inside the Ateneo campus.
“I’m really learning about basketball here. It’s definitely good to get here and kind of start learning about the guys in the team,” said Simon, who was never drafted in the NBA and played overseas in countries such as Russia, Bulgaria, and Korea.
He is coming off a stint in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), which ended just last Sunday, making Simon raring to go in his debut game for the Texters against the Alaska Aces on Wednesday.
“I should be in pretty good game shape,” he stressed.