JENS Knuttel is glad to be given part of Barangay Ginebra, never mind if he's currently on the reserve list.
Other than first-round picks Greg Slaughter and James Forrester, Knuttel was the only other rookie player signed by the Kings, although the former Far Eastern University guard is not part of the team’s 14-man roster.
Still, Knuttel, selected in the sixth round of the last rookie draft, has every reason to be glad being part of the country’s most popular ballclub after spending several conferences in the PBA D-League following his college career with the Tamaraws.
“Kahit ano sabihin natin, blessed ako dahil kahit papaano, one step closer na ako,” said Knuttel in an interview with Spin.ph. “Kung one step closer na ‘yung D-League to PBA, mas malapit na ito dahil nasa team na ako, part na ako ng team.”
Before being drafted by Ginebra, Knuttel played high school ball in Zamboanga before joining FEU where among his teammates were RR Garcia, JR Cawaling, and Mac Baracael. He also suited up for Café France in the D-League after his stint with the Tamaraws.
As a reserve, Knuttel remains very much part of the team, seated at the back of the Kings’ bench along with several assistant coaches during game days. He also attends every team practice and plays against the team’s starters.
“Kami ang nagpapahirap sa kanila,” said the Zamboanga native with a laugh.
Despite being a ‘practice player,’ Knuttel only has good words for his teammates most especially veterans Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand, the two longest tenured players of the Kings.
“Sa totoo lang, nagulat ako na sobrang bait nilang lahat lalo na sila,” said Knuttel, referring to Caguioa and Helterbrand. “Lagi kaming one-on-one after practice, kahit sobrang tagal ng practice, one-on-one pa rin kami. Masaya.
“Welcome na welcome talaga ako. Tini-treat nila ako n parang kapatid,” said Knuttel.
He also spoke highly of Ginebra fans, with whom he is very popular especially among the ladies.
“Iba talaga fans ng Ginebra. Napapansin din nila ako kahit sa practice at sa Twitter,” Knuttel said.
Being so close to playing in the pros, Knuttel is trying to be patient and holding on to his dream of one day suiting up for the Kings.
“Tiyaga-tiyaga lang ako araw-araw,” said Knuttel.
For now, he is satisfied to make life tougher on his superstar teammates during practices.