OLD hands Mick Penissi and Willie Wilson served as inspirations for rookie Jake Pascual in a veteran-laden Barako Bull team.
The freshman center credited the two for his breakout game in the PBA Philippine Cup Sunday that saw Pascual finished with career-highs 22 points and 12 rebounds in the Energy’s 87-71 beating of Kia Motors at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Masaya ako na nakuha ko na ‘yung first PBA win ko tapos maganda ‘yung tinakbo ng team namin sa defense,” said Pascual.
Picked eight overall by Barako in the last Rookie Draft, Pascual credited Pennisi and Wilson for registering his best game so far in his young pro career.
“Si Willy Wilson, siya ‘yung maraming tinuturo sa akin sa skills, kung paano mag-seal, mag-depensa,” said Pascual, who just turned 26 last November 11. “Sinasabi niya sa akin na napapanood na niya ako before. Sinasabi niya sa akin na focus sa defense tapos susunod na ‘yung offense.”
Pascual also said noted how amazed he is at the 6-foot-10 Pennisi, who still plays with a lot of intensity even though he’s already pushing 40 years old.
“Kapag nakikita ko si Mick, parang 40 years old na siya, pero nakikita ko na hardworker pa rin siya sa practice. Nag-e-extra shooting pa rin siya. Kung minsan, yinayaya niya ako mag-extra shooting tapos contest para hindi mapagod sa practice.
“Kung siya nagagawa pa rin niya ‘yun, ‘yun pa kayang mid-20s,” Pascual said.
The 6-foot-5 center played for several of San Beda’s championships in the NCAA and NLEX in the PBA D-League.
Yet, he doesn’t feel frustrated in his rookie year with Barako Bull, which only notched its first win over Kia Motors after opening the tournament with a 0-5 record.
“Galing din ako sa nananalong team sa San Beda at NLEX. Sabi nga nila sa akin, part ng buhay ‘yan. Hindi naman lagi ka sa itaas. Kailangan mo rin maramdaman ‘yan para mag-improve ka pa at gawin mong motivation,” said Pascual.
Barako Bull coach Koy Banal said he is happy for Pascual that his right attitude towards the game has finally bear fruit.
“I’m thankful that because of his positive attitude and his experience in his amateur days, he was able to play really strong in this game. He held his own against Reil Cervantes especially down the stretch,” said Banal of his prized rookie.