DORIAN Pena feels like he’s a rookie again when he plays his first game in a Barangay Ginebra uniform on Sunday against newly-crowned Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“I’m a bit nervous (playing his first game for Ginebra),” Pena admitted to Spin.ph on Saturday after practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Ironically, the veteran big man will be up against his former team in the 5 p.m. encounter.
“I imagine for how many years, I played 11 years with San Miguel and you’ve always been a team (playing) against the fan favorite when you play Ginebra. Now it’s the opposite (because) now you’re (with) the home team,” he said chuckling.
The 37-year-old Pena landed at Ginebra after being involved in a three-team trade recently that saw back-up center JR Reyes ended up with San Miguel, and sophomore slotman Justin Chua going to Barako Bull.
The 6-foot-7 center admitted getting used at being booed and jeered whenever he goes up against Ginebra in the past when he was still with the Beermen.
But now Pena said he’s curious how his initial game with the Kings will be.
“I’m kinda curious what it feels like with the fans cheering. But this is different (Ginebra fans), but I’ll get used to it,” he said.
“I’m a shy person so I have to be used to saying hi to the fans and take pictures because usually, I walk fast and don’t stop. But now, I won’t do that anymore,” beamed the former Coppin State product as he obliges taking pictures with Ginebra fans within the gym’s premises.
Aware that Ginebra parades one of the most formidable frontlines in the league behind 6-foot-11 Greg Slaughter, 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar and veteran center Billy Mamaril, Pena said his entry doesn’t mean he’ll be taking somebody’s playing time or act like the team’s ‘savior.’
“I’m new here, but it’s a totally new system from what I’m used to be,” explained Pena, who is coming off a long, eight-month layoff due to a torn left Achilles heel while still playing for Barako Bull.
“It’s a winning tradition here, and I’m glad to be back in a winning tradition team. But I’ll try to learn the plays, which is different because they (Kings) have a lot of plays and they have bigs here,” he added.
“I’m trying to fit in where I can help them, but I don’t wanna come in here and try to be a savior, or something like that. But I’m gonna contribute and play as hard as I can and hopefully, the fans will welcome me and the team as well.”