ROOKIE big man Yousef Taha was itching to play in Barangay Ginebra’s do-or-die game against Rain or Shine on Friday night.
Taha did get the chance; and he did deliver.
When coach Siot Tanquingcen finally pulled him out of the bench to man the slot early in the final period, the well-travelled rookie came out with a quality performance that drew a big smile from his coach, led to a huge win by Barangay Ginebra and earned Taha a big applause from the team’s legion of fans.
“Si Taha, malaki ang naitulong sa amin. Di masyadong tangible pero yung energy level niya malaking bagay sa amin,” said Tanquingcen after his team leveled its PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals with Rain or Shine to one win apiece with a heart-stopping 79-77 win at the Big Dome.
"Alam naman natin Ginebra basketball iyan eh. We play with a lot of emotions and energy."
The 23-year-old Taha, Air21’s 11th overall pick in last August’s rookie draft who Ginebra acquired in a trade for Mike Cortez, said he had programmed his mind to contribute in any way he can to the Ginebra cause against the highly-physical Elasto Painters.
Given a window of opportunity, Taha made sure it was not put to waste. In 10 solid minutes in the fourth quarter he finished with two points, five rebounds, and two shot blocks, but more importantly, provided the energy and hustle that easily made him a fan favorite.
“The first time I got here (PBA), it was always like a lot of people watching for Ginebra. I love the crowd. And when I found out I got traded to Ginebra, now a bunch of fans are saluting me here. It was pretty cool,” said Taha.
Now he can't wait to jump back into the action in the no-tomorrow game on Sunday.
“I’m excited about Game Three. I hope coach could use me again, but whenever he calls my number, I’ll be ready. Whatever he needs me to do, I’ll do it,” said the high-energy Ginebra rookie slotman.