By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
WHILE admitting that his first year in the Philippine Basketball Association was not an easy one, Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters forward Jason Perkins said he learned a lot from his debut campaign and improved as a player en route to winning the Rookie of the Year (ROY).
Officially claimed the top award given to PBA freshmen on Sunday at the annual Leo Awards at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Mr. Perkins, selected fourth overall in the 2017 PBA rookie draft, said his focus now is building on his steady first year entering his sophomore campaign in the premier local professional league.
“My rookie year was not easy at all. The work I put in college, it was twice of that here in the PBA. It was really a learning experience for me. Every day I was asking a lot of questions to constantly learn. It was really difficult,” Mr. Perkins shared to members of the PBA press in the league’s first-ever Media Day last week.
The former De La Salle University standout had season averages of 12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists last year in helping Phoenix become one of the more steady teams in the league.
In winning the rookie of the year award, Mr. Perkins bested Alaska’s Jeron Teng, Magnolia’s Robbie Herndon, Blackwater’s Raymar Jose and Rain or Shine’s Rey Nambatac.
The top two picks in the draft — San Miguel’s Christian Standhardinger and NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena — were ruled ineligible for the award for varying reasons.
Mr. Standhardinger did not play in the season-opening Philippine Cup to finish his contract with the Hong Kong team in the ASEAN Basketball League while Mr. Ravena was taken out of the race after his 18-month suspension by world governing body FIBA.
Mr. Perkins was a runaway winner for ROY, collecting total points of 2,863 from the statistical points and votes from media, players and Commissioner’s Office.
In second was Mr. Teng with 1,639 points.
Coming into his second year in the PBA, Mr. Perkins, 26, said the learning will continue for him.
“The learning continues for me in my second year. I hope to be a more consistent shooter and to be able to read the games better,” he said.
“Nothing is really given. I know my process, the process that the team is taking and something positive has come out of it. We are working hard right now. We are taking our time and being patient getting to know each other,” Mr. Perkins added.
Mr. Perkins and the Fuel Masters make their 2019 Philippine Cup debut today against the Meralco Bolts at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Also on tap today is Blackwater Elite versus the Northport Batang Pier in the curtain-raiser at 4:30 p.m.