RYAN Arana may be with a new PBA team now, but he was gracious enough to stay around and watch his former team Rain or Shine play against Star Hotshots in the lone opening game of the PBA 41st season.
While he could have gone straight home and rested following the opening ceremony that preceded the match, the San Miguel Beer new boy decided to stay on and show support to what he still considers his ‘family.'
“Kahit papaano andun pa rin 'yung mga naiwan ko, mga kaibigan ko pa rin naman ang mga 'yun. I support them pa rin, and I wish them good luck for this season,” said Arana, who stayed on until the start of the fourth quarter of the game which the Elasto Painters won in come-from-behind fashion, 96-87.
The hard-nosed guard out of De La Salle also visited the Elasto Painters in their dugout shortly before the game. Other former Rain or Shine players such as Jervy Cruz, Jonathan Uyloan, and Ronjay Enrile also dropped by to wish the team luck.
“Halos lahat nagpunta roon and said their ‘hi,’” said a smiling Arana.
Arana ended an eight-year association with the Welbest franchise after he was traded to Barako Bull for a 2016 second round pick during the offseason. He found himself being shipped to San Miguel later for Ronald Pascual.
He admitted adjusting a bit playing for a new team in the Beermen.
“Naninibago siyempre bagong team and first time kong ma-trade in eight years,” said Arana. “Pero at the same time, masaya rin ako dahil bagong chapter ito ng buhay ko.
“At tsaka yung napuntahan kong team hindi rin naman basta-basta ito. Champion team ito e. So new challenge for me.”
And part of that challenge is always being ready as the Beermen defend their all-Filipino title.
“Kami lahat ang tinitingnan nila. Halos lahat ng teams dito sa PBA kami ang pinaghahandaan,” said the nine-year veteran, who was part of Rain or Shine’s first and only league championship back in 2012.
And it helps too, he’ll be playing under SMB coach Leo Austria, the very same man who was at the helm when Welcoat Paints (the former brand of Rain or Shine) tapped Arana as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2006 draft.
“Kaya hindi na rin bago sa akin yung system niya. More on jelling na lang sa mga teammates ko (ang adjustment),” he said.
Arana will play his first game as a Beerman against Globalport on Saturday in Davao City, and his first meeting with Rain or Shine won’t happen until November 4 also at the MOA.
He admitted already looking forward to the match against his former team.
“Excited akong makalaban sila,” he said with a hearty laugh. “Actually, hindi ko alam kung ano ang magiging feelings ko (during the game)."
And even against his former teammates, Arana said he’s not going to change the way he plays.
“Kung ano pa rin ‘yung nilalaro ko sa Rain or Shine. Of course after the game, magkakaibigan kami. Pero inside, wala munang kai-kaibigan dahil trabaho 'yung nilalaro namin,” he added.