MERALCO’S Japanese import Seiya Ando got his baptism of fire in the PBA on Wednesday night and saw for himself just how physical play in the pro league can be.
And probably dirty, too.
Coming in to replace Iranian combo guard Benny Koochoie, the 5-11 Ando emerged from his debut all banged up as he suffered a bloodied mouth and had to pick himself up from the floor one too many times in Meralco's 84-91 loss to NLEX in their PBA Governors Cup game.
There was even one dubious play in the second half when the Japanese guard, sitting on the floor after a collision with Harold Arboleda, found another NLEX guard - Pamboy Raymundo - falling on him elbow-first.
No problem with that, except that, as this series of photos captured by Spin.ph's Jaime Campos showed (and later verified by television replays), there appears to be no outside force or momentum that could've driven Raymundo to fall, elbow first, on Ando.
To his credit, Ando took his licks like a real trooper.
When asked to comment on his first taste of the PBA brand of play, Ando said the league is definitely more physical than the National Basketball League-Canada, where he helped Halifax Rainmen to a runner-up finish two weeks ago.
“Canada is faster than here, but PBA is more physical than there,” Ando said in halting English.
The physicality, however, did not prevent Ando from playing aggressive basketball as he scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half of his PBA debut.
“I like it (physical). It’s a good experience,” said the 22-year-old standout from Meiji University in Japan. “Ii just have to be more aggressive and strong, just continue to play hard.”
The PBA, however, may not be as forgiving.
Asked about the play, PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial said Commissioner Chito Salud and his technical team review game tapes regularly and are constantly on the lookout for unnecessary contact.
“After every game naman nire-review ni Com (Salud) 'yung laro, so kung makita niya yung ginawa ni Pamboy, puwede siyang ma-sanction,” Marcial told Spin.ph on Thursday.
So the ball is now in the PBA's court.