CRITICIZED for his uninspiring PBA debut, Ginebra import Herbert Hill found a backer in Air21 coach Franz Pumaren who believes that given time, the 6-foot-10 product of Providence College will be able to show his true worth.
“Okay naman si Hill. May kilos at shooting,” said Pumaren, whose knack for seeing talent is unquestionable after serving as one of the most successful coaches in the UAAP while still handling De La Salle.
Hill, playing competitive basketball for the first time in the last nine months, finished with just 17 points on 7-of-24 shooting as the Kings lost to the Express on Sunday, 70-74, during the two teams’ PBA Commissioner’s Cup debut.
The Ginebra import, who also had 18 rebounds and four block shots, was obviously outplayed by Air21 counterpart Michael Dunigan, whom Pumaren rates as a better player.
"I think skills-wise, Hill is not that bad,” said the 50-year-old coach credited for nurturing the careers of Mark Cardona, Rico Maierhofer, Jerwin Gaco, Ryan Arana, JV Casio, Mike Cortez, among others.
“Probably, skills-wise, Dunigan is much better.”
And Pumaren thought his import is also a much better one-on-one player than Hill, who guarded Dunigan on single coverage and obviously paid the price.
“I think they didn’t respect him (Dunigan), single coverage (lang ang defense). I don’t think they can guard him one-on-one,” Pumaren said of his prized import.
“You will need help to stop the guy.”
Despite the rousing win by the Express against the league’s top crowd drawer, the Air21 coach admits his team is still the most inferior out of the 10-team field, talent-wise.
“Nothing against my players, if you look at our lineup … I think we are the weakest lineup because everybody upgraded their lineup,” he said.
“We are just playing as a team. That’s what is important right now, everybody’s contributing.”
The Express were a surprise playoff team in the last Philippine Cup, losing to eventual champion Talk `N Text during the quarterfinals.
“Pero I have high hopes kaya naming higitan `yung finish naming last conference,” said Pumaren.