JAKE Pascual is not letting pressure get to him, and instead sees his arrival at Alaska as an opportunity to make an immediate impact for a team riddled by injuries in its frontline in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Aces acquired the third-year big man in a trade with Star for Rome dela Rosa last week, bolstering a frontcourt that’s currently without injured stalwarts Sonny Thoss and Noy Baclao.
“Kailangan nila ng big man para makatulong, pero imbis na ma-pressure ako, tinake ko yun as a challenge na maglaro ng maayos at makatulong sa team,” Pascual said after practice on Tuesday on the eve of his expected debut against Meralco at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Kinausap rin naman ako ni coach Alex (Compton) na hindi naman niya ine-expect na mapupunan ko yung kawalan nila Sonny and Noy,” he added. “Sabi niya lang ‘laruin mo lang ang laro mo. 'Kinuha ka namin dito kasi may nagustuhan kami sa laro mo.’ Hindi daw nila ako kinuha para i-fill up ‘yung kawalan nila Sonny and Noy sa ngayon.”
Compton is more concerned on laying the foundation first for the 6-foot-3 3/4 Pascual, who has practiced just thrice with his new team.
“He’s gonna work out if he wants to help out. There’s no pressure on his side,” the American coach said of Pascual, who barely cracked the Hotshots rotation after an impressive rookie year with Barako Bull. “I tell him to just learn the system first and you’ll fit right in, but that takes time.”
But this early, Pascual, who’s on his third team, is already feeling comfortable with the Aces.
“Sa nafi-feel ko sa Alaska team ko, isa rin ‘to sa mga pipiliin kong bahay kung ako ang papipiliin kung saan ako tatagal,” Pascual said. “Kasi in a short (period of) time pa lang na nakasama ko sila, parang feel at home na ako agad. Kumbaga hindi kasi ako ‘yung nag-a-adjust.
“Tinutulungan ako ng mga coaches ko at mga teammates ko na ‘Okay ka dito,” he added. “Basta mag work hard ka lang palagi.’ Ang bonding dito iba — family. Tulungan dito, walang hilahan pababa. Sabi nga nila, itong team na ‘to maipagmamalaki mo sa iba kasi ‘yung bonding ng players, coaches and managament, iba talaga.”