Despite missed chance in debut, Al-Hussaini staying positive
Rabeh Al-Hussaini came close to getting a kickstart to his career renaissance as he made his debut for NLEX on Friday.
Playing as a decoy in the Road Warriors’ final play in the last 30 seconds, the Fil-Kuwaiti big man got the rock down low and looked for Wayne Chism for the team’s final play.
The Star defense, which was anticipating the pass to Chism, doubled down on the import and sagged off Al-Hussaini. With his options limited, the 28-year-old took a crack at Hotshots import Tony Mitchell and put up a hook shot with 21 seconds on the clock.
Unfortunately, his attempt hit only the back rim, allowing Star to make one last play which led to Jio Jalalon’s game-winner at the buzzer, 105-103.
“That was all I was thinking of,” said Al-Hussaini. “I hope I made that, but it was unfortunate that it didn’t. If I made it, it would have been great.”
Coach Yeng Guiao also didn’t fail to let Al-Hussaini hear a piece of his mind after his late game play wasn’t followed.
“We really wanted to get the ball to Rabeh to attack the import who had five fouls, but my instruction to him was that’s going to be the decoy play and he has to kick it out to our import,” he said. “Maybe he enjoyed too much and went for the shot, but that happens. I told him I would rather lose on my own account rather than somebody not following instructions. But on the other hand, you also know that he’s not afraid to take the blame, so that’s also a good sign.”
It was still a decent showing for Al-Hussaini, who was traded from Meralco to NLEX in a three-team swap on Monday, as he finished with six points, two rebounds, and an assist in 24 minutes.
“He was able to play defense and score some big points, so the fact that he made a contribution offensively and defensively, and we played our best game, that should mean something in our future games,” said Guiao.
Al-Hussaini is also staying positive with his current situation as he seeks to finally end his journeyman status in NLEX with Guiao, the very coach who drafted him back in 2010.
“He’s the one who drafted me, so I’m really happy to that he’s giving me the chance to at least show what I can give on the court. I’m glad that he trusts me, so I have to also replicate that trust,” he said.
“I know I still have a lot to adjust. But I’m just staying positive. Knowing coach Yeng, you have to perform because if you show any negativity, you won’t have any playing time. You have to be firm every time you play on the court.”