EVEN though he’s got no professional basketball experience, Barangay Ginebra import Zaccheus Mason gamely played through a highly physical, intense tune-up match on Thursday against sister team San Miguel Beer.
The 238-pound Mason scored 22 points and courageously battled San Miguel’s beefy frontline led by June Mar Fajardo, Douglas Kramer and reigning MVP Arwind Santos.
The Gin Kings, who trailed by as many as 12 points midway through the fourth period, mounted a late comeback before falling short and bowing to the Beermen, 83-89, at the Ronac Gym in San Juan.
“It was pretty good. It was good because we just put in a new offense,” Mason told Spin.ph after Ginebra’s first tune-up game since the team started working on the triangle offense under new coach Jeffrey Cariaso.
“We’re just getting used to the triangle system. But I felt good to play with all the guys for once, because I haven’t been here for a week. But as things start to come together, we have small things to correct, but overall it’s fun,” he added.
Mason is in his first overseas stint, coming off a stint in college with the University of Tennessee-Chattanuga where he averaged 15.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks during his final year.
The soft-spoken native of Nashville, Tennessee said the first thing he noticed the moment he arrived in Manila was the warm reception he received from the fans.
Ginebra fans, numbering close to a hundred, packed the small Ronac gym and its vicinity trying to get a glimpse of what is expected to be a new-look Gin Kings squad under Cariaso.
“I like it a lot because it’s a lot of support and a big fanbase,” noted the 23-year-old Ginebra reinforcement for the Governors Cup.
“Everybody’s excited, I’m excited, so I’m just ready to get started.”
With Ginebra's mixture of big men and outside shooters, Mason said he understands that his role really is to provide the energy, hustle and rebounding as he tries to help the Gin Kings end their six-year title drought.
“I just (want to) be consistent, bring energy to the team, do the small things for us to get us going like rebounding, score when needed to, get blocks when I need to, small stuffs like that just for us to get the edge,” said Mason.