GIVEN time to mature, not a few people swear Rabeh Al-Hussaini could regain the confidence that once made him the biggest star in local amateur basketball.
Talk `N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo is among those who see the potential in Al-Hussaini, who he said can be an heir apparent both with the Texters in the PBA and the national men’s team once he finally gets to focus on his game.
“Wala namang ibang papalit sa amin kungdi sila-sila rin nila Greg (Slaughter),” said De Ocampo of Al-Hussaini's potential to become a member of the Gilas Pilipinas team in the near future.
“Iilan lang naman ang malalaking Pinoy na tulad nila di ba?” said De Ocampo, a shoo-in for Chot Reyes’ roster in the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship set this August in Manila.
And no one can bring out that potential than Talk 'N Text coach Norman Black, de Ocampo said.
“OK nga si Rabeh ngayon. Saka nakikita ko enjoy siya kay coach Norman (Black),” added the veteran big man out of St. Francis of Assisi College.
Black has been allotting extra time in practice giving Al-Hussaini, a former UAAP MVP with Ateneo, hands-on training since acquiring him just before the Commissioner’s Cup in a straight trade for Japeth Aguilar.
The relationship between the two goes all the way back to college when Al-Hussaini was the key piece in the first of Black’s five UAAP championships with the Blue Eagles starting in 2008.
“Kaunting panahon lang at polishing pa ni coach, I’m sure babalik yung dating UAAP MVP form ni Rabeh,” De Ocampo said.
Bad image has obviously hounded Al-Hussaini right from the start of his pro career when he was surprisingly selected No. 2 by then Air21 Express coach Yeng Guiao during the 2010 draft, despite being the consensus top pick.
“It’s a learning process for him,” was all Guiao could say after the controversial decision that saw him tab another Ateneo big man in Noy Baclao ahead of Al-Hussaini.
But people close to him insist the big man is simply misunderstood.
“Si Rabeh, na-mi-misinterpret lang ng tao ang ugali niya. Pero masyado lang talagang passionate sa laro yun. Masama kasi loob niya pag natatalo,” said Al-Hussaini’s brother and Meralco Bolts forward Carlo Sharma.
Al-Hussaini himself agrees with what his brother said.
“Kilala mo naman ako, talagang passionate lang ako. At alam ko naman si coach Norman ang isang coach na alam kung paano ako gamitin,” he said.
Bong Ramos, Al-Hussaini’s former coach with Barako Bull, said: “Sa akin okay naman si Rabeh, nakikinig naman sya. Nag-ta-try rin siya ng best na baguhin yung mali,” said
“Coachable, go-hard sa practice. Kaya nga nalungkot din ako nun nang ma-trade siya.”
The 24-year old Fil-Kuwaiti has shown marked improvement despite the limited minutes with the Tropang Texters, putting together his best effort so far of six points, seven rebounds, and two assists in a 99-79 rout of his former team Globalport.
“Patience lang. Basta ako walang ibang sasabihin kungdi masaya ako ngayon,” concluded Al-Hussaini.