PBA: Last pick Hernandez welcomes challenges to dust off obscurity | Inquirer Sports
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PBA: Last pick Hernandez welcomes challenges to dust off obscurity

/ 01:09 PM November 01, 2016
Levi Hernandez. TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.net

Levi Hernandez. TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.net

Don’t call him Mr. Irrelevant.

Levi Hernandez doesn’t mind being the last man called in the 2016 Rookie Draft on Sunday.

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With his name being the last called up on the stage, the former Arellano Chief could care no less as he now looks forward on starting his career in the PBA.

READ: Banal, Alolino 1-2 in regular draft; Ginebra picks Jamito

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“Sobrang kinakabahan na ako. Akala ko hindi na ako makukuha. Last na lang ‘yung TNT pero buti na lang, kahit na huli, na-pick pa rin ako (I was really nervous. I thought I was not gonna get drafted. TNT picked last and I was just lucky I got picked, even if for the last slot),” he said.

Hernandez shared that he already lost hope on his chances, slumping to his seat as he rather wished the proceedings to end.

But his wait eventually worked out for the better, being the 37th man to rise from his seat and receive a team jacket and cap.

“Ninyerbos na ako eh. Di ko na talaga maalala. Nagulat na lang ako na sinabing ‘Levi Hernandez.’ Parang ‘di na nga ako makatayo sa upuan kasi kinakabahan ako eh,” he said. “Iniisip ko na talaga na wala na. Huling huli na ‘yung pick e. ‘Di ko naman ineexpect na ako ‘yung matatawag at pipiliin kaya sobrang saya ko lang talaga.”

(I was nervous. It was all a blur. I was just shocked when they called my name. ‘Levi Hernandez.’ I felt like I could not stand from where I was seated. I really thought it was over. It was the final pick. I did not expect that they would call my name. I am just really happy.)

One of the standout wings during the Combine, Hernandez can now focus on bringing his wealth of experience from the amateur ranks as he tries to replicate the performance he did with Foton in the Filsports Basketball Association (FBA), where he was even named as the Most Valuable Player.

“Sa Foton kasi, ginawa nila akong scorer kasi nu’ng nasa Arellano ako, hindi naman ako scorer talaga dahil ang trabaho ko lang doon, dumepensa,” he said.

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(When I was playing for Foton, I was converted into a scorer, which was not my primary role as defender for Arellano.)

But going to the PBA is another thing, and the challenge for Hernandez was already laid down by TNT assistant coach Josh Reyes.

“Sinabi ni coach Josh, ipakita ko lang sa practice kung paano ako dumepensa at doon talaga ako magpo-focus, at kung open ako titira ko. Sinabi n’ya na kailangan ko talaga maipakita ‘yun sa practice kasi kulang sila ng defender sa wings, kaya doon ang gusto kong ipakita, kung paano ako dumepensa,” he said.

(Coach Josh told me that I need to show on practice that I can defend and shoot whenever I am open. He told me that they are in need of a defender on the wings, so I need to show that I can be the man for that job.) IDL

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