ONE thing you’ll readily notice when you talk with James Forrester these days is his Tagalog is getting better.
The Filipino-Canadian cager, who has been in the Philippines for over five years now, has seemed to make a conscious effort to blend in better in his mother’s native country.
“The goal is to learn one new word every day,” he shared when SPIN.ph caught up with him before the start of Blackwater practice on Friday afternoon.
And just like his language, Forrester’s mindset has allowed him to fit seamlessly with his new PBA team, which pulled off a 94-87 decision over Phoenix in its Philippine Cup debut last Wednesday.
The 27-year-old wingman made an immediate impact off the bench. After coming in with less than five minutes to go in the first quarter, he picked the pocket of a Phoenix player, knocked down a three-pointer just a little over a minute later, then capped the period with a layup off a strong drive that gave his team a four-point lead.
He finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, and could’ve added more to his new career-high had his other triple beat the shot-clock buzzer. He also had two assists and two steals without committing a turnover in 11 minutes of play.
“This early in this season, everyone’s still trying to determine what their roles are on this team,” Forrester said. “And I was just telling myself I want to be aggressive right as soon as I got into the game and for me, especially, I know what works for me is defensively.”
“So my mindset was just to be the aggressor on defense and yun, that kind of helped spark some of the other buckets that I ended up having,” he added.
For the first time in a long while, Forrester is also having fun out there.
“We got the W, so there’s nothing more I could be happy about,” he continued. “That’s all we were hoping for. With the renewed culture around here, ang daming bagong player, so getting a chance to get out there and finally gain some chemistry, it was fun and capping it off win a win, it’s very satisfying.”
Personally, Forrester admitted that the performance was a huge boost to his confidence after a career lagely spent hopping from one team to another since he was picked fourth overall by Ginbra in the 2013 PBA Rookie Draft.
“I’m not going to lie; it did help my confidence quite a bit,” Forrester said. “Theoretically, that is my career high in four years. I just want to keep on building from that because I know I’m still trying to grow with this team, with my teammates, and with the coaching staff.”
“Personally, it means a lot, but at the same time, that was over Wednesday. Now, I’m looking forward to Sunday,” he added. “I’m looking forward to a good conference.”
So for someone who has bounced around the league so early in his career, has the journeyman finally found a home in Blackwater?
“It’s still very early, but as of right now, the answer to that question is, ‘Yes,’” Forrester admitted. “They have installed a lot of confidence in me. They’ve told me that they do believe in me, so for me as a player, that’s a good sign for me.”
“All the teams I’ve been on in the past, it’s all been a learning experience, but this one feels a little bit different kasi they’re actually trusting in me to help this team.”