Bad back and all, rookie Herndon shines for Magnolia
Dealing with back spasms, Robbie Herndon wasn’t even supposed to play for the injury-riddled Magnolia squad in its season opener against Alaska on Wednesday.
But like the warrior that he is, the sixth overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft suited up and played for almost 20 minutes in the Hotshots’ 108-95 victory.
Aching to showcase what he’s made of, Herndon made sure to make those minutes count, contributing nine points and seven rebounds in his professional debut.
What’s more impressive is the Fil-Am swingman having the gall to make the big plays, delivering the dagger as he beat the shot clock with 1:15 remaining to put Magnolia up, 105-95.
“It feels good,” he shared after putting his first PBA game under his belt. “I was frustrated that four days before the game, I got a back injury. I was doubtful if I was gonna play but we got awesome trainers here and we worked on it everyday and got my back and was able to play so I’m just super excited that I was able to play today.”
Making his debut better was his father Robert Sr. surprising him as he came from San Francisco just to see his son play in his first PBA game at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
“My dad flew out today and surprised me. I didn’t know he was here. It would have been sad if I wasn’t able to play in front of him, but I’m glad that I did,” said the younger Herndon.
.@RobbieConrad460 was surprised by his dad who came from US to watch his PBA debut for @M_Hotshots #PBA2018 pic.twitter.com/uRqnJYqfpG
— Randolph B. Leongson (@RLeongsonINQ) December 20, 2017
Those performances are just the kind of games coach Chito Victolero needs from his players, especially with the Hotshots still waiting for the recovery of key cogs Marc Pingris, Jio Jalalon, and Rafi Reavis from their respective injuries.
Herndon firmly understands what his team needs of him, and he’s more than ready to step up even though he himself isn’t at 100-percent.
“You know, coach preaches ‘next man up.’ Everybody’s ready to play, injured or not,” he said. “It’s great that Paul (Lee) was able to come out and play. He was just out there killing it. I’m wondering where we’re going with a full team because even in practice, everyone isn’t playing. So I’m really excited to see us when we were at our strongest.”
Star returns to action on Christmas Day when it takes on fierce rival Ginebra at the cavernous Philippine Arena.
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