‘Overseas’ rookies chart different debut paths

STEPHEN HOLT terrafirma

Terrafirma top pick Stephen Holt. –PBA IMAGES

Friday’s PBA doubleheader featured a study in contrasts as two top rookies with experience playing overseas made their respective debuts.

No. 1 pick Stephen Holt turned in a rather underwhelming performance in Terrafirma’s 108-103 loss to NorthPort, while No. 6 pick Kenneth Tuffin figured prominently in Phoenix’s 113-101 comeback victory over NLEX.

Both were hardly in the mood to fixate on their respective showings at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

“You know, I just gotta stay true to who I am,” said Holt, a Filipino-American scoring guard whose multiple stints overseas was projected to bring immediate impact to the league’s perennial doormat.

“I’m a team player who plays defense. I make the right plays, make the right passes, make the right shots. I was just unfortunate that I couldn’t help the team win at the end of the day,” he added.

Holt only had 11 points over the course of 38 minutes. He did have a strong defensive effort, which yielded four steals.

“The foremost thing I am here for is to improve. So all I can do is put my head down, keep grinding and keep helping my boys out,” he said.

Tuffin, who played pro ball in New Zealand for three years prior to entering this year’s PBA Rookie draft, had a more complete outing numbers-wise with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“With Phoenix, the whole idea of why they drafted me was that they expected me to contribute right away—whatever the team needs,” he said.

“I play four positions, so whatever coach Jamike (Jarin) needs me to pull, I got to be ready to do that. The expectation was for me to contribute and I feel like I did that—as well as my other teammates,” Tuffin added.

Tuffin wasn’t the only newcomer who was big in the Fuel Master’s rally from 16 points down. Ricci Rivero also contributed 15 points and four rebounds.

Holt will have the chance to charge his shaky debut to a simple off night when Terrafirma battles Blackwater.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.

Your subscription has been successful.

“It’s a long season. The only thing we can do now is get our heads down and keep building,” said Holt.