ROOKIE Maverick Ahanmisi's numbers of late for Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs is his way of repaying the trust put in him by his teammates and coach Yeng Guiao.
For the second straight game, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft came through in the clutch after finishing with a career-high of 23 points in the Elasto Painters’ 98-94 Game One win over the San Miguel Beermen in their best-of-five semifinals series.
Ahanmisi had eight points in the pivotal fourth, including the three clinching free throws that allowed the fifth-seeded team to steal one against the higher-ranked Beermen.
The 24-year-old Fil-Nigerian also came up huge (13 points) when Rain or Shine slammed the door on Barangay Ginebra in their quarterfinals match-up.
The native of Los Angeles, California couldn’t thank the Elasto Painters and Guiao enough for being patient and just letting him play his usual game.
“Those guys give confidence in me to play my game. And coach Yeng, he doesn’t put pressure on me as a rookie to perform being a top three pick,” he said. “I’m fluid, I can just play my game, and that’s a testament to my teammates and the coaching staff.”
Ahanmisi played for 29 minutes and was in the game down the stretch when Rain or Shine finally found a way to wrest the lead and eventually, win the match.
He admitted being surprised he was still inside the playing court until the endgame, something which he last experienced while in high school yet.
“In college, I played in crucial minutes, but not in this magnitude,” said the guard out of University of Minnesota. “I didn’t feel that I can be a closer at any other day.”
But Rain or Shine top gunner Paul Lee declared Ahanmisi has definitely earned his spurs with the team.
“Maverick is a good player. He can play defense, marunong siyang mag set up ng mga teammates niya,” he said “Kaya niyang maglaro even down the stretch or importanteng minuto sa team at maganda yun para sa amin.”