IN an import-dominated PBA conference, Rain or Shine proved it can emerge victorious with its locals carrying most of the offensive load.
That’s because the Elasto Painters ruled the Commissioner’s Cup with its reinforcement finishing the tournament without even averaging double digits in scoring.
Pierre Henderson-Niles ranked behind Jericho Cruz, JR Quinahan, Jeff Chan, and Maverick Ahanmisi – down at fifth in the team in scoring, tied with Paul Lee with just 9.6 points in his 13 games for the squad.
“(One) satisfying thing about this championship is we won a championship with the lowest scoring import ever in the league,” E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao chuckled. “It’s something different, something unique.”
“‘Di kamukha nung stereotype na import na iiskor ng thirty points and the whole play revolves around him. It wasn’t that way with P, but he gave us what we needed,” the fiery coach, who won all his seven career PBA titles in import-laden tournaments, was quick to add.
After all, the burly 6-foot-8 slotman was what the doctor ordered for the E-Painters after they failed to find the right fit with their previous wing-thriving imports in Mo Charlo and Antoine Wright after original choice Wayne Chism went down with an injury.
Henderson-Niles came in the nick of time, shackling Greg Slaughter in the quarterfinals against Ginebra, limiting June Mar Fajardo in the San Miguel Beer semifinal series, before shadowing college teammate Rob Dozier and generally clogging the lanes against Alaska in the finals.
“Sabi ko nga, the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Guiao said. “Ten-three yung record niya mula nung dumating siya sa amin. It’s a great record anywhere, including the championship.”
“How can you argue with that?” he added.
Henderson-Niles, who shot 52.5-percent from the field and hauled down 10.8 boards, on top of 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and one block against 2.3 turnovers, took pride in everything he does besides putting the ball in the hoop.
“Everybody who scored twenty, thirty, fourty points, where they at? They're out,” Henderson-Niles beamed. “I come in and score ten points and get fifteen rebounds a game.”
“They can score forty points and it's cool, but you're losing. I'm scoring that much and getting rebounds and we won a championship,” added the Memphis product, who won his first title as a pro. “Numbers don't really (matter), even the Best Import. This (title) is what I came here for.”
Asked if he intends to bring Henderson-Niles back, Guiao is waiting until the next midseason tournament to make a decision.
“Next year pa naman yun, matagal pa nating pag-iisipan,” he said with a smile.
If he does return, Henderson-Niles vowed to be in better shape as he seeks to lead the E-Painters to back-to-back titles.
“Hopefully, we could repeat next year if they bring me back,” Henderson-Niles said. “I'll be in much better shape, believe that. Next season, I'll be in great shape. Trust me.”