‘We’re blessed to be here’: Sampson Carter and James Hughes bring experience, positive attitude to Alab Pilipinas
Ceej Tantengco on Jan 17, 2017 11:16 AM
“We’re both excited and blessed to be here.” - Sampson Carter
Alab Pilipinas’ three-game winning streak began when their new World Imports Sampson Carter and James Hughes came on board. Apart from bringing their experience playing in nearly 20 countries around the world, their teammates and coach have praised the duo’s positive attitude and openness to Filipino culture.
“Being overseas for as long as I did, football is usually the main sport in the countries I played,” shares Hughes. “But here, Filipinos love basketball. It’s huge.”
Hughes’ pro career began in Poland, and after ten years in the business, the list of countries he’s been to stretches on and on: Turkey, Israel, Puerto Rico, Holland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia, Japan, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Mexico.
Adjusting to life in the Philippines, Hughes says, is easy after playing two seasons in Japan. “[There are a] lot of similarities. I used to go to Ministop and get karaage balls, I had a rice cooker at the house...also, there are a lot of Filipinos in Japan so it’s an easy transition,” he explains.
For 26-year-old Carter, the Philippines marks the sixth country on his journey. “It’s a very homey feeling,” he says. “As hard as people think it would be, [getting used to life here] wasn’t that hard for me.”
You can thank Ray Parks Jr. for that. Carter and Parks have been friends since they were teenagers in America, and the two reconnected at a Knicks training camp two months ago. When Alab Pilipinas started looking for new imports, Parks recommended Carter to their coach Mac Cuan and team manager Charlie Dy.
“His resume speaks for himself and his character is great,” shares Parks. “He’s a very humble guy. When I was young I was looking up to him as my role model, as a kuya, you know? It’s nice to be sharing the court now.”
“It’s not likely that a player goes to a different country and knows the players there,” adds Carter. The chemistry between the two friends is apparent at team practice, where the two trade jokes and plan tourist spots to visit.
Hughes is also looking forward to exploring the Philippines. “My dad actually comes to the Philippines a lot for vacations, and he always says how much he loves it. I’ve been trying to get down here for a while,” he says.
But before the tours, the two have a championship to chase. Cuan is pleased with Carter and Hughes’ performance, especially considering they joined the team mid-season.
“They’re actually gelling well with the team. They have good attitude, good basics, familiarity,” Cuan shares. “Ako naman I’m trying to make [the transition] easier for them. Hindi ako masyadong nagpa-plays right now, more on reads muna.”
“They’re great players, sobrang talented. Wala rin silang ego, humble sila at naniniwala sila sa sistema ni coach,” adds Parks. “Athleticism, kaya nila maglaro ng multiple positions, they’re great for the team.”
The Philippines is not the first country that Hughes and Carter played in, and most likely, it won’t be the last. But for now, the two are looking forward to making the most of every minute with Alab Pilipinas.
As Carter says: “We’re both excited and blessed to be here.”