Ex-San Miguel import John Holland happy with Manila return | Inquirer Sports

Ex-San Miguel import John Holland happy with Manila return

/ 03:24 PM September 02, 2023

Puerto Rico's John Holland in the Fiba World Cup.

Puerto Rico’s John Holland in the Fiba World Cup. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines —Puerto Rico’s John Holland, a former San Miguel Beermen import, is relishing his return to Manila where he is having a much better showing compared to his last game in the country four years ago.

Holland made  big shot to keep Puerto Rico in contention for the Fiba World Cup 2023 final phase, overcoming the Dominican Republic, 102-97, on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The former PBA reinforcement didn’t have a good experience in his last game at the Big Dome four years ago as he made a costly turnover down the stretch when the Beermen’s Grand Slam hopes got shattered by Barangay Ginebra in their 2019 Governors’ Cup quarterfinal game.

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The 34-year-old forward had a sort of redemption for himself, nailing a go-ahead triple in the final 31.1 seconds of the game as Puerto Rico forced a four-way tie at 3-1 in Group I with Dominican Republic, Serbia, and Italy.

“It’s great to be back. I spent a little, short time here,” said the Puerto Rican winger. “The people are so welcoming, they’ve been always one of the most friendly and welcoming people. You see them riding in the bus saying, ‘Hello.’ It’s really nice to be here. It’s a great experience. It really is.”

Holland only played three games in the PBA averaging 18.3 points, 9.7 rebounds. 3.3 assists after he replaced Dez Wells, who was sent home after fighting his San Miguel teammates including Arwind Santos and Ronald Tubid in practice

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Puerto Rico's John Holland

Puerto Rico’s John Holland during his stint in the PBA.

The former NBA player also managed to see some familiar faces in  San Miguel teammate Alex Cabagnot, who watched in the first round, and Gilas Pilipinas center June Mar Fajardo at their hotel.

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“Alex. And I’ve seen June Mar eating and stuff. It’s been nice. I’ve been around so long, I feel like I have teammates on every team in the world. It’s been nice to catch up with some guys,” Holland said.

Holland is not closing his door for a possible PBA comeback if ever he receives an offer from a team.

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“We will see. Who knows. But I appreciate the hospitality, of the journey. Everything I’ve experienced in Manila, what we’re experiencing now. It’s been a blessing and I’m just happy and grateful to be here,” he said.

Holland is also enjoying Puerto Rico’s World Cup stint in Manila, forming a solid bond with his teammates.

“It’s just been a pleasure. They say it’s the journey, not the destination and I think as a team, we didn’t win one preparation game. For us to grow from the first game to like the last game, it’s been a great journey,” he said. “You see the guys coming together, you see everybody coming together as a team and it’s a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of. It’s not just the games, it’s like practices and dinner and everything.”

Holland and Puerto Rico brace for Italy on Sunday to wrap up their Group I campaign for one of the two berths to the final phase.

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“We played them in preparations. They were a great team, they kind of blew us out but it’s a different place, it’s a different atmosphere. I think we’re a better team (now), we’ve been growing a lot in this tournament,” he said. “One step at a time, now we gotta focus and get a game plan going. I expect a tough game, a battle. Of course, this is what it’s all about.”

TAGS: Fiba World Cup, Puerto Rico

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