Paul Harris picked up where he left off during his first game back in the Philippines, powering Phoenix Super LPG to a hard-earned 103-100 victory over new-look Terrafirma on Thursday night.
The veteran Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) import, who won a title with the TNT franchise in the past, scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a commendable performance that helped the Fuel Masters get their Governors’ Cup campaign on a good note.
Harris assures there’s plenty more where that came from, raring to pour everything he was supposed to give Barangay Ginebra back in 2016, until a thumb injury shelved him for good.
“My main focus is with Phoenix. I’m happy I am here and got an opportunity to come back. I just want to focus on my team and give everything I can to try to help us win as many games as possible,” he told a few reporters at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Phoenix coach Topex Robinson heaped praises on his reinforcement, even poking fun at the American for “forgetting he is an import.”
“His mindset is to always get everybody involved. We even try to remind him that he should be taking shots,” the Phoenix mentor said with a chuckle.
“But then again, he’s a selfless individual, and he really rubs off [on our players] with that,” he went on.
Harris found his way to the Fuel Masters through deputy Jamike Jarin with the help of former PBA star Jimmy Alapag, who is currently in the United States coaching the Sacramento Kings’ NBA G League affiliate.
His selfless play—which endeared him to two powerhouse clubs—hardly changed. His play style, he said, is rooted in two things.
“It’s always been my personality as a little kid,” he said. “One of my favorite quotes is ’It is amazing what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.’”
The other? His love for the Philippines.
“I have played everywhere. All over Europe, even in the [NBA’s] D-League. ESPN actually had a documentary on me, and I only mention one place I’ve played in and that’s always the Philippines despite everywhere I’ve been,” said Harris.
Harris is the only other import in this tournament who was able to steer a PBA team to a championship aside from Justin Brownlee, his replacement half a decade ago.
And they also share a lot of things aside from playing for Ginebra and having a great deal of affection for this country. The pair actually played together for the Maine Red Claws in the G League.
“I’ve been cool with Justin for a long time. I’ve got nothing but happiness for him. I’ve actually seen him today and told him congrats for all the success. I’m always one of those people who’s happy for everybody,” Harris said.
So count Harris among the first people to get excited as soon as he heard that the PBA can soon open its gates to its fans.
“We need them. I can’t wait. Hopefully, it starts off with 50 percent. Because there’s no fans like the PBA fans. I don’t care, man. There’s no fans like them,” he said.
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