AS he prepared to move to new team San Mig, forward Ronnie Matias has a far bigger problem than just trying to get a grip of the Mixers' intricate triangle offense.
It’s how to converse with American coach Tim Cone in English.
“Magdadala na talaga ako ng dictionary (sa practice), mapapalaban ako ng inglesan nito,” said Matias, moments after a three-team, seven-player trade saw him move from GlobalPort to San Mig on Tuesday night.
They Said It!
“Magdadala na talaga ako ng dictionary (sa practice), mapapalaban ako ng inglesan nito." San Mig forward Ronnie Matias
Matias was a locker room jester during his time with Rain or Shine, Air21 and GlobalPort and he took the latest career move in stride, cracking another joke when asked how he will approach Cone in his first day of practice.
“Basta ako Taglish ako. Syempre, lahat babatiin ko. 'Good morning, coach, thank you, coach. That’s all,'” Matias said before breaking into hearty laughter.
And what if he has something to ask? “'Coach, what’s the ano? Ah, the next question? ... sa iba na lang ako magtatanong,” he laughed.
But don't get Matias wrong. The five-year PBA veteran said he has a firm understanding of the English language.
“Nag-e-english naman ako nun, sometimes. Pag English ang subject,” the funnyman said. “Nakakaintindi naman tayo ng English, wag lang yung so very so deep.”
For podcast of interview with Ronnie Matias, click HERE
On his move to San Mig, the former University of Manil standout said he finds solace in knowing that Cone, a longtime Manila resident, knows how to speak a little Tagalog and actually understands the language.
“Hindi, marunong naman daw magtagalog si coach Tim Cone eh,” he said.
Matias' wife Jheda, who shares the cager's brand of humor, said the 6-5 forward has become the butt of jokes among family and friends as soon as news of his move to San Mig reached the household.
“Sabi nga 'nung kapatid ni Ronnie na bunso, kumuha na raw ako ng tutor nito, nang mag-ta-translate, translator niya,” she said laughing. “Pero I can teach him naman eh (laughed).”
Matias did not escape ribbings even from his seven-year old son, Rhon-j.
“Grabe, yung anak namin. Sinalubong kami. ‘Papa, alam ko trade ka na sa San Mig Coffee, baka pag iningles ka ni coach Tim Cone, hindi mo maintindihan’. Ang bait,” Jheda said laughing.
Jheda said it was good that the Matiases have a balikbayan visiting and staying in their house.
“Sabi ko nga kay Ronnie, may bisita kami ngayon foreigner na bata. Sabi ko sa kanya: ‘Mag-practice ka na dun. Kausapin mo lagi, para ma-exercise ka,” she laughed, pointing to her five-year-old Fil-American niece who just arrived from Dallas.
Turning serious, Matias said he considers his move to San Mig as a blessing in his career and has vowed to work hard to earn his place in Cone's star-studded rotation.
He also plans to seek the help of good friend Allein Maliksi and former neighbor Jerwin Gaco as he tries to learn the triangle offense - the sooner, the better.