AFTER a couple of years spent mostly riding the bench and battling injuries, Rico Maierhofer is excited to re-start his stalled pro career with Barako Bull.
The former Rookie of the Year awardee is looking forward to a fresh start with the Energy Cola, who acquired him and Willy Wilson in a draft-day trade for the No. 3 pick which Barangay Ginebra used to pick James Forrester.
Sticking to the positives, Maierhofer said he sees the move as a chance to prove he is still the same player that won the Rookie of the Year award after being selected No. 2 overall by San Mig in the 2009-2010 draft.
“Yun talaga ang tinitignan ko nga sa paglipat ko dito sa Barako Bull. New team, new challenge,’ said the 6-foot-6 former De La Salle star.
The Fil-Austrian forward has never been the same since suffering an ACL tear in his sophomore year and the situation got worse during his stay with Ginebra, where he had to overcome more injuries while getting sparse minutes playing behind imports.
For now, Maierhofer said his top priority is to be 100 percent healthy as he completes his recovery from an MCL tear which he nursed during his final season with Ginebra.
“May meniscal tear ako eh. Nilalaro ko ito last conference sa Ginebra. Pero ngayon, I decided na sumalang na sa strengthening para hindi na magbalik-balik,” he said.
Maierhofer has so far sat out Barako Bull’s first two preseason games, not wanting to take a chance on setting back his recovery as he limits himself to shooting drills in practice.
“Nagfu-fully recover na kasi ako. Ayoko nang pilitin kasi baka mas mapasama pa ako,” he said. “Sa ngayon shooting-shooting muna ko saka kaunting conditioning para pag nag open na ang season, game shape ako, 100 percent na ako.”