NEW Petron import Henry Sims never realized how big basketball was in the Philippines until he turned to Twitter to announce that he was on his way to the Philippines for his first overseas job.
After posting a message on his account @H_Sims14 on Tuesday thanking the city of Erie for his stint with NBA D-League side BayHawks and including a #philippineshereIcome! hashtag, Sims was surprised to be deluged by new followers and retweets - all of them from Filipino cage fans.
“That (fan responses from Twitter) caught me off guard,” said soft-spoken 23-year-old American after his message drew 45 retweets and 33 favorites, and led to over 15 new followers that same day.
“When I tweeted, and (later) I checked my Twitter, 17 to 20 new followers and they are all Filipinos. A lot of tweets say, ‘Excited to see you here.’ I didn’t realize how big basketball is out here till maybe a couple days before I came over,” he said.
Sims said he was so intrigued with the Philippines that he made some research to check out the PBA.
“Tweets are coming in more and more every day and media starts coming in more and more too … And Filipinos were asking me questions. And when I did some research, basketball was really big here, it’s very nice, I love to play the game,” he added.
Sims joined his first practice with the Boosters at the Acropolis gym in Libis, Quezon City on Thursday after nearly 20 hours of travel time on his way to Manila, which included an unscheduled layover in Guam.
The former Georgetown Hoya spent another 15 minutes with Petron assistant coach Biboy Ravanes and center Danny Ildefonso to familiarize himself with the team's plays.
“First practice was cool. The guys helped me a lot. They teached me the system and teached me the plays. I enjoyed it … My rhythm was a little off though, especially my jump shot. So I’ll get some treatment for my legs and hit the gym tomorrow morning before our game,” he said.
The 6-10 Sims will get his first taste of PBA action when Petron faces Meralco on Friday in the opener of a Commissioner's Cup double-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sims is Petron's third import this conference after super import Renaldo Balkman, who has since been banned from playing in the PBA, and Rodney White, who lasted just two games with the team.