ALWAYS WANTED to play for the Magnolia franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association, forward Robbie Herndon shared that to win a title with the team makes it all the more special.
Acquired on Draft Day in 2017 by then the Star Hotshots from GlobalPort Batang Pier, Mr. Herndon, who played collegiate ball in the United States with San Francisco State, said to be part of the team he has admired was something he was happy and excited to have seen realized.
That special affinity with the Hotshots was further enhanced recently after the rookie player helped the franchise get back to the PBA summit, winning the season-ending tournament Governors’ Cup by defeating the Alaska Aces in six games in the finals.
It marked the end of a four-year title drought for the storied franchise in the local professional league.
The last time the franchise was in 2014 when they won the same conference to complete a grand slam year for the team, which was playing under San Mig Coffee then.
The significance of the title conquest was not lost to Mr. Herndon, who was a key cog for head coach Chito Victolero and the Hotshots in their title run.
“It’s an incredible feeling. I got a special group of guys on this team, and that’s what makes it even more special. Winning a championship is great, but winning that with a group of guys that all get along just like a family makes it feel even better,” said Mr. Herndon.
“I am blessed to be with a team that’s already ready to go and ready to win a championship. As a rookie, I just wanna focus on fitting in with the system, and I feel I did a great job with that. It’s just the rookie season, but I’m already a champion. So what else can I ask for?” he added.
Moving forward, Mr. Herndon said he is looking forward to achieving more success with Magnolia and playing under the system of Mr. Victolero, which he thinks fits him well.
“It (Magnolia system) works, obviously. We win. It’s a defensive system. The offense is free-flowing, but it’s mostly defense. I like our system. As long as we’re winning, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Mr. Herndon said.
With one year of PBA experience under his belt, Mr. Herndon said he is more than willing to share what he had learn in year one to incoming Magnolia players, notably Michael Calisaan of San Sebastian College, who the Hotshots ninth in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.
“I was given a lot of help with the veterans when I first came in. I’d try to do the same for him — trying to teach him what to do. If he needs help. I’m excited to meet him. He’s joining a really good team,” Mr. Herndon said.
Prior to entering the Philippine Basketball Association, Mr. Herndon made a name for himself by ruling the Red Bull King of the Rock Philippine qualifier, beating PBA legend Willie Miller in the finals.
He then played at the Philippine Basketball AssociationDevelopmental League with the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.
At the PBA Rookie Draft, Mr. Herndon was selected sixth overall by GlobalPort before his rights, along with another pick Andreas Cahilig (24th), was sent to the Hotshots for rookies Lervin Flores (9th), Joseph Gabayni (14th) and Julian Sargent (16th) in a multi-player deal. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo