ANTIPOLO - Teammates in La Salle, Jason Perkins and Abu Tratter almost had a reunion in Phoenix Pulse heading to the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.
With the Fuel Masters owning the No. 4 selection, coach Louie Alas was hell-bent on taking in a big man, with Tratter his most obvious target.
But things didn't really pan out the way they thought it would and Phoenix Pulse traded away the pick to NLEX for Alex Mallari and Dave Marcelo.
Their paths crossed when Phoenix and Blackwater faced off at Ynares Center on Friday, with Perkins' Fuel Masters getting the better of Tratter's Elite, 114-95 in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
Part of the champion La Salle team in UAAP Season 79, Tratter and Perkins says there are not disappointed at all about the foiled reunion.
"Not at all. Everything happens for a reason. Don't get me wrong, Abu is a good player. But we got Alex and Dave so we have no regrets," said Perkins.
Tratter, who slid down the list and was picked at No. 7 by NLEX before being moved to Blackwater in a draft day deal for JP Erram, also sees it the same way, though he takes his drop down the draft boards as a chip on his shoulder.
"I just wanted to make sure that I made an impact. Ever since the draft, I was telling myself I needed to work hard to show these people something they should regret," he said.
Tratter did prove his point, pouring 24 points, eight rebounds, four steals and an assist in the game, though his side drew the short end of the stick in the 19-point defeat as Perkins mustered 15 points, six boards and four dimes.
"Coming to this game, I was driven. Unfortunately, the game didn't go the way I wanted to. I wanted to make a statement," said Tratter.
Make no mistake, though: Both relished defending each other in the number of times they found themselves matched up.
"It was fun. When we're playing, me and Abu are not friends and we're not teammates. We're just playing against each other, healthy competition," said Perkins, last season's Rookie of the Year.
"I'm happy to see him play hard. He has a good head on his shoulders. He really touched up on his game, he's been working hard in the offseason, completely different player than he was in college and I'm really happy for him. He's fitting in well in this league and he's got his head on straight. I'm happy to see him perform. That's my guy."
For his part, Tratter said: "Jason's always been a workhorse. Just seeing him out there on the floor, seeing how much different his body is, it's a true testament on how much he has sacrificed going into this league and I respect his game."
"Me and Jason have always been cool. It was fun and laughter, but at the end of the day, it's good competition."