AN emerging NBA star with a name familiar to Filipino basketball fans showed up for an NBA event at the Gatorade Training Center on Thursday.
Wesley Matthews Jr. was in town along with Portland Trailblazers teammate Robin Lopez and champion coach Avery Johnson at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong where they conducted an advanced training camp for collegiate and a handful of pro players.
The Blazers guard’s long-range accuracy and athleticism undoubtedly reminded Ginebra fans of his father and namesake Wes Matthews, a former Los Angeles Laker who suited up for Ginebra as an import in the PBA late in his career more than two decades ago.
The elder Matthews had a short but memorable stint in the PBA, having led the Kings to the finals of the 1991 reinforced conference where they lost to an Alaska side led by top reinforcement Sean Chambers.
Twenty-three years later, it was his son’s turn to showcase his talent, albeit for a shorter period, while imparting his valuable knowledge to a select group of players.
“It’s just funny how life could come full circle,” the 27-year-old Matthews said during a lull in the first of a two-day event. “He (Wesley Sr.) was here and now I’m here.”
The younger Matthews said he was surprised that Filipino fans still remember his father, who he said now works as a coach in New York and Connecticut.
“I just learned through being here, how many people still remember him and how big basketball is here.”
Aware of the passion for hoops Filipinos have, Matthews offered some words of advice.
“They should never stop playing,” he said. “Embrace that there are things you could get better at. Not just in basketball, but in life, if there’s something we’re not good at, we shy at it. But we should embrace that and get better at that.”