ANDREW Kehinde “Kenny” Adeleke may not be the first, second, even third choice as Phoenix Petroleum's import, but he's out to prove he’s more than just an afterthought when the Fuel Masters make their debut in the PBA starting in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Phoenix coach Koy Banal admitted the Nigerian big man was far down in the pecking order in the team’s import wish list for the midseason tournament.
“Actually, pang-apat siya sa listahan, pero ‘di nag-materialize yung iba,” Banal bared.
“But I hope and pray that he can help us in our campaign,” he was quick to add of Adeleke, who turned 33 on Wednesday, the same day the Fuel Masters were formally introduced as the league’s newest franchise.
Banal is hoping first impressions last on Adeleke, who arrived just last week in semi-formal attire.
“Maayos na maayos ang itsura,” Banal said. “Dun pa lang, mai-impress ka na.”
Adeleke has been practicing with the Fuel Masters since last Saturday and he likes what he is seeing so far from the 6-foot-8 journeyman.
“He can easily adapt to the system,” Banal said. “He can easily jell in terms of chemistry, and I still believe in chemistry. He's very friendly, approachable, iba ang ugali. Natutuwa ako nung sinabi na hindi sya katulad ng iba.”
But the veteran mentor also hopes Adeleke would turn fierce when he finally makes his debut, something the mild-mannered import agreed with.
“(I bring) rebounding, toughness, and scoring inside the paint, just bringing a lot of heart,” said Adeleke, who went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft. “I think the guys will feed off me, just playing hard so we could win.”
His name may not ring a bell compared to his other heralded import counterparts, but it only serves to motivate Adeleke even more.
“I heard about some of the guys, but it’s definitely a good thing to play around other really good players because it brings the best out of me,” he ended.