Barangay Ginebra rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen were the last players to leave the San Andres Gym in Manila after the Kings’ tune-up game against an Australian youth team on Tuesday afternoon - not because they wanted to but because they spent so much time signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.
After getting a first-hand experience on how it is to be part of the PBA’s most popular ballclub, the Filipino-American freshmen feel truly blessed.
"It’s been a new experience,” the 24-year-old Jensen told Spin.ph after the Gin Kings' 83-42 rout of the Australian Under-19 squad. “The fans have been great. I’ve never experienced this amount of love from the fans. This is awesome and it’s very flattering.”
Barely a month since he was taken sixth overall in this year’s draft, the 23-year-old Ellis is also feeling right at home with his teammates.
“Everybody gets along and is down to earth. They all teach you what they know. It’s just a great situation all around,” said Ellis, whose mother is from Sampaloc, Manila.
Asked what their personal goals will be entering their rookie years, both had their eyes set on repaying the adoration and faith of the fans with a championship.
“I want to be the reason we win the championship, whether it be stopping the best player on the other team or doing what they need me to do. I just want to be there for my team,” said the 6-foot-5 Ellis, who became known for his high-flying act in the PBA D-league.
Jensen, whose family traces its roots to Pampanga, said his objective is “to help this team win a championship, that’s it. All of the personal accolades like Rookie of the Year, being in the starting five, it will all work itself out. I’m not worried about that.
"Winning is my goal.”
“I just want to fit in where I can help the most,” added the 6-foot-4 Jensen. "So if that’s defensive rebounding, that’s what I’m going to do. If that’s spot-up shooting, slashing, that’s what I’m going to do. I feel confident that I’m versatile as a player so whatever they need me to do I’m going to do it.”