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Is Fil-Am Maverick Ahanmisi the next Stanley Pringle?

Byline: Mark Giongco

MANILA -- FilAmerican baller Maverick Ahanmisi has heard about the Philippines and how Filipinos are religiously into the game he loves.

And that alone was enough for Ahanmisi to leave the US after college and take his basketball career with him here.

"After college, I've been hearing about the PBA, I've heard about it my whole college career and I know basketball is really big here and I just took the opportunity to come out here," said Ahanmisi, whose mother, Marissa is from Pangasinan.

Ahanmisi just had his debut in Philippine soil Monday and he immediately turned heads in leading the Cafe France Bakers to a lopsided win in the PBA DLeague.

He made his presence felt right away scoring 10 points in an 180 run in the first quarter that keyed in their win.

The stocky 6foot guard Ahanmisi, who also had four rebounds and two assists, logged 18 minutes in a starting role.

"It was fun. Playing in the Philippines is something new. It was a fun experience and for a debut it was a fun environment," he said after finishing with 11 points on 3of4 shooting from the field, including a perfect 2of2 clip from long distance.

Obviously, Ahanmisi would've played more minutes and would've shown more of what he can do had the game didn't turn into an early rout something he wasn't able to get during his collegiate career as a reserve for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Despite seeing limited action, Ahanmisi said he has learned a lot through his coach Richard Pitino, son of legendary tactician Rick Pitino.

"He's helped me a lot and taught me about defense and just basketball in general," said Ahanmisi. "He's a great NBA mind so he has helped me a lot especially at the point guard position and what spots to go to."

Playing in Manila gives Ahanmisi a different feel. People will keep an eye on him, the media will be on him from time to time and teams will have his name on their scouting reports.

Not to mention the style of play here than what he's accustomed to differs as well.

"The physicality. They let a lot more things go and I like that style of play," he pointed out. "You get to play defense a lot scrappier and I feel like that fits my game really well."

Right now, the 23yearold Ahanmisi is focused on leading the Bakers to more wins but ultimately, he has his sights on playing in the PBA. A path Globalport rookie Stanley Pringle, whom Ahanmisi is very familiar with, took.

"[He and I] came from the same conference in the States so I've been watching him. I like his playing style," said Ahanmisi. "He's somebody I look up to. Just because we came from the same background in the States so hopefully I end up playing like him."

The FilAmerican Pringle was a former Penn State slotman and was one of the key cogs when his school won the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 2009.

Ahanmisi was part of the Gophers team that won the NIT crown as well and he hopes the similarities between him and Pringle go farther.

"I think when I got to college as a freshman he was gone already. He graduated that year but I've seen him and I know he won the NIT championship just like I did last year," he said.

"I'm kind of molding myself in becoming as well as he is in the PBA," he added.

Pringle has played in several other countries since college but he has traced his roots and found himself here as one of the most exciting players to watch in just his first year in the PBA.

Ahanmisi is looking to follow Pringle's footsteps.

It will take a while and a lot of hard work for Ahanmisi to see himself where Pringle is now but "it's kind of the same path."
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 28, 2014
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