BARANGAY Ginebra’s diehard fans consider import Leon Rodgers as some sort of a 'savior.' Gin Kings guard LA Tenorio, however, only has three words for them: Not so fast.
Rodgers arrived in Manila early Monday, took a few hours of rest, and immediately plunged into practice at nine in the morning at the Green Meadows in Libis, Quezon City, raising expectations among Ginebra's fans with his impressive credentials.
However, Tenorio was quick to temper expectations, saying that no one will really know how good the 33-year-old American journeyman really is until he rounds into shape and plays in an actual game.
“Alam mo naman ang fans ng Ginebra, very passionate,” Tenorio told Spin.ph, when asked about Ginebra fans’ high expectations of the high-scoring import. “Medyo kailangan pa niya (Rodgers) ng conditioning kasi may jetlag pa since kakarating lang naman kahapon (Monday).”
But after two days of practice with the Gin King, Tenorio admitted Rodgers is getting only positive feedback and lifting the morale of the team, thanks to his career numbers and his wide experience in playing in leagues overseas.
“Pero very positive ang feedback sa kanya saka mataas ang morale ng team sa practice,” said Tenorio, whose team is also trying to shake off its painful Philippine Cup semifinal series defeat to San Mig in seven games more than a week ago.
On the other hand, Rodgers, who is coming off a strong stint with the Jilin Northeast Tigers at the Chinese Basketball Association, said he will try to bring in the experience and winning mentality to Ginebra, having played professional basketball overseas for the last 11 years.
“I hope to bring experience and winning ways to the team,” said Rodgers, best remembered for scoring 66 points after burying a CBA-record 15 three-point conversions in a game with the Tigers on March 11, 2009.
“I’ve heard great things about the PBA and Ginebra, and I’m excited to go out there and play.”
Before leaving China, the high-scoring Rodgers ranked sixth in the CBA in scoring with an average of 29.1 points per game on an impressive 54.2 field goal percent shooting clip as well as 40.1 percent shooting from three-point territory.
Though undrafted in the NBA 2002 draft, Rodgers has brought his basketball talent overseas, seeing action in leagues in France, Netherlands, Germany, Puerto Rico, China, Venezuela and Colombia.
He made a name for himself in Netherlands after winning the MVP in the Dutch League for three consecutive seasons (2005-2007).