James White is back in the PBA with Mahindra, but he’s certainly dealing with different things this time around–from new teammates to a new jersey number.
With injured rookie big man Russel Escoto already sporting jersey number 33, the 6-foot-8 White opted to go with jersey number 1 in his second stint with the Floodbuster.
But the athletic White failed to rediscover the winning feeling on Friday night when Mahindra suffered an 86-94 loss to Meralco on opening day of the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The former Georgia Tech, who powered the Floodbuster to a stunning 4-0 start in the same conference last season, lived up to his billing anew, piling up a game-high 33 points and four blocks on top of 16 rebounds and a steal in more than 40 minutes of play.
But the Floodbuster locals, outside of do-it-all guard Alex Mallari, failed to come up with a strong support that was a stark contrast to what their Bolts counterparts did.
And White certainly no longer have the same solid backups that he had the last time out since the likes of gunners KG Canaleta, Keith Agovida, Paolo Taha and Aldrech Ramos were dealt via separate trades following their strong showing in the mid-season conference last year.
But the American import won’t dwell on that too much. “That’s part of the business of basketball,” he said.
“The team that we have they welcomed me with open arms, we had a team building, I had to know the guys even more. It’s a new family but we’re brothers, it’s going to be good things that will come from this season.”
While he blends in with his new teammates, White knows his job with Mahindra remains the same.
“More in just me doing the right thing and helping the team win. That’s what the team needs me to do, I’ll do that,” he stressed.
“If the team needs be to be a defensive player, an energy guy, I’ll do all those things. But for me, it’s just possession by possession, whatever the defense gives me, whatever coach draws up that’s what I’m gonna do.
“It really doesn’t mean anything if you lose but I did what the coaches told me to do that’s why I feel great.”
And White said he holds no bitter feelings at all even though he failed to sport his old jersey number.
“I think one of the players was wearing 33 right now and I didn’t want to butt any heads. It’s alright though, no big thing,” he said.
Helping Mahindra pick up the pieces in earnest ahead of another tough match against defending champion Rain or Shine on Sunday is the immediate goal of White.
“Even though we got a loss, we took a lot from it,” he said. “Understand what we got to do on the next game on Sunday. It was a lesson learned, we’re not having our heads down, it’s a long season. Just got to stay positive.”
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