THIS early, Chris Ellis is feeling the weight of expectations of Barangay Ginebra and its legion of supporters.
But that only gives him the extra motivation to work hard.
“It’s crazy because looking back, the only player my mom knew in the PBA before she left for the United States more than 20 years ago was (Robert) Jaworski,” Ellis told Spin.ph shortly after the team’s practice at the Xavier gym.
Ellis, Ginebra’s sixth overall draft pick, recounted that he first heard of the PBA when he played against some former PBA stars who played a series of exhibition games against a Fil-Am team in Tampa, Florida.
The athletic Ellis remembered chatting with former PBA great Abe King, ex-Ginebra hotshot Elmer Lago, Edward Naron and Rey Lazaro during their exhibition matches in the United States.
“They were talking about the PBA and Ginebra and how that team was really popular in the Philippines. I was kind of interested to see how things are doing in the Philippines. And now, here I am, about to play in the PBA and then getting drafted by Ginebra as well. It’s just amazing and I’m really, really blessed,” beamed the high-leaping Ellis, who is set to sign a multi-million-peso deal with the Gin Kings within the week.
Ellis is confident that Ginebra’s veteran-laden team is capable of coming up with an explosive showing in the coming 38th PBA season.
“We had a great time in practice today. We’ve got a lot of athletic players and experienced players in the team,” added Ellis, who is expected to provide scoring spunk and support to a team of veterans led by last season’s MVP Mark Caguioa, Jay-jay Helterbrand, Mike Cortez, Kerby Raymundo and Rico Villanueva.