FOR both JayJay Helterbrand and Rudy Hatfield, the poor 0-2 start of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup doesn’t just boils down on the import factor.
The locals also need to step up, according to them.
Both veterans agree the rest of the Kings are not doing their part and that their 89-80 loss to Globalport Batang Pier on Friday night should not be solely blamed on import Herbert Hill.
Hatfield for one acknowledged Hill’s improved game against the Batang Pier which saw the 28-year-old import finish with 22 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, and two block shots in just 22 minutes of play.
“He’s a great player,” said the energetic power forward of Hill. “But the rest of the team have to improve, not only the import.”
“He played good tonight,” said the former league MVP about Ginebra’s import, whom he admitted has become very close to him in the short span that they’ve been together.
“I think it’s unfair because some of us, including myself, did not play well tonight.”
Besides the team’s slow start in the mid-season conference, it also saddens Helterbrand to see Hill go just like that especially with his replacement – former Detroit Piston Vernon Macklin - set to plane in by Monday.
“Personally, he has become a good friend of mine,” said Helterbrand. “He’s a nice guy, and it’s hard for me to see him go."
But for someone who’s been in the PBA for a long time now, he’s aware that’s just the way things are in Asia’s pioneering play-for-pay league.
“But it’s how the PBA goes,” he stressed. “We have no choice but to accept it. Herbert is the energy type of player, he’s the guy who crashes the boards, goes for the rebound, and runs the floor. He makes his presence felt defensively and he’s a go-to guy offensively.”
Helterbrand hopes Macklin would be the perfect fit for the league’s most popular team.
“We’ll just have to find a better one to fit for the team. I just pray that the next import is the one we’re looking for.”
Then again, Hatfield reiterated it’s not all about the import.
“We have to improve, no matter who the import is, and with that we will win,” he said.