ROBBIE Herndon couldn’t wait to see the true potential of Magnolia once the team gets everybody back on board in its PBA Philippine Cup campaign.
The Hotshots played minus injured veterans Marc Pingris and Rafi Reavis, along with sophomore guard Jio Jalalon, but still came out on top against the Alaska Aces, 108-95, on Wednesday night to kick off their all-Filipino bid on a high note at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Herndon, the Fil-Am rookie, was also nursing back spasm but managed to suit up in his first game as a pro to contribute nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
The No. 6 pick in the last rookie draft said he’ll definitely not miss the game against the Aces especially with his father coming over to watch him play.
“My dad flew out here and surprised me. I didn’t know he was here,” said Herndon, who was standing just a few feet away from his father, Robert Sr., during the post-game interview.
Thrilled as he may with the presence of his dad, Herndon actually is just as delighted with the prospect of the Hotshots finally playing as a complete unit by January, the timeline given by coach Chito Victolero for Reavis and Jalalon's return.
Pingris is also a prospective January returnee, although the seasoned power forward said he could be back in the lineup as early as the team’s December 25 game against old rival Barangay Ginebra.
“I’m wondering what we’re gonna be like with a full team,” said Herndon. “Even in practice, we hadn’t had everybody ready to play. So I’m excited to see us stronger.”
This early too, the rookie wingman already feels he belongs with the Hotshots, especially after cracking the lineup of Victolero against the Aces notwithstanding his hurting back.
“I feel welcome here and I feel like I’m in a good situation,” said Herdon, who was acquired by the Hotshots in a trade with Globalport Batang Pier just a few hours after draft day.
“With practice and tune-up games, I feel like I started to find my niche here,” he added. “To be able to bring it and carry it over to the real games is a good feeling.”