Top pick Stephen Holt shows why he’s described as Terrafirma savior
Carrying the weight of expectations going into his first Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season is something Terrafirma’s Stephen Holt would rather face head-on as he finally gets a chance to showcase the skills that made him the top rookie selected in the Draft.
“I view pressure as a privilege at the end of the day,” Holt said ahead of the Dyip’s Commissioner’s Cup opener set 4.p.m. against the NorthPort Batang Pier on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Holt, the 31-year-old guard whose vast experience playing overseas does not make him look like a neophyte, is eager to reinvigorate the usually floundering franchise and achieve the short-term goal of making the playoffs.
Since arriving in the country after agreeing to a two-year contract, Holt described himself as something that’s been trying to give hope to a Terrafirma side that won just three out of 33 games the previous season and hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2016 Governors’ Cup, a drought spanning 15 conferences.
“I have a responsibility to come in and affect this team in a positive manner, on and off the court, and so far I’ve done that,” he said.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working hard in practices, in tuneup games and trying to help the guys out. And before we know it, the season gets underway. And when the light goes on, I’ll be ready for it,” added the well-traveled Holt, who had stops in the NBA G-League, Australia, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.
Help for Juami
One player excited to have Holt around is Juami Tiongson, who for the past two seasons has been carrying much of the load for the Dyip and has emerged as one of the league’s best guards despite his team’s misfortunes.
“Right now he may be a rookie, but he’s very experienced on the international level. He knows what he can bring already and he’s unselfish and very supportive of the team’s goal,” said Tiongson.
Belgian center Thomas de Thaey will reinforce Terrafirma for the season-opening campaign against a NorthPort side likewise seeking a good start to Season 48.
Arvin Tolentino will be tasked to man the Batang Pier after gaining significant experience playing for Gilas Pilipinas during the country’s historic run to the gold medal in the Hangzhou Asian Games. Aussie big Venky Jois is going to serve as the team’s import.
Speaking of Gilas, Kevin Alas goes into the new campaign confident as NLEX battles Phoenix in the nightcap at 8 p.m.
Alas and the Road Warriors will be hoping to go further this time after struggling to sustain early starts in the previous two conferences since tapping coach Frankie Lim.
But Lim has high hopes for his team, particularly NLEX’s first-round pick, Richie Rodger, who the Road Warriors mentor has compared to PBA great and current Sacramento Kings assistant Jimmy Alapag.
Ex-NBA cager Thomas Robinson will be the import for the Road Warriors against the Fuel Masters, who drafted Kenneth Tuffin and Ricci Rivero.