PBA: Rookies Kris Porter, Paul Varilla, and Kyles Lao all ready to make an impact for NLEX
Santino Honasan on Jan 08, 2019 12:20 PM
NLEX rookies Kris Porter, Paul Varilla, and Kyles Lao are all ready to make a splash in the professional ranks.
Along with the arrival of star big man Poy Erram and the return of playmaker Kevin Alas, the NLEX Road Warriors head into the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup armed with three new rookies who are more than capable of contributing to the team, as they once again try to contend in the PBA's season-opening conference.
The Road Warriors picked up versatile big man Kris Porter from Ateneo, athletic wing Paul Varilla from UE, and sweetshooting guard Kyles Lao from UP, and all three are looking to make an impact with the team.
And while their additions will certainly bolster the team's depth, NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao understands that the new guys will definitely need to learn the ropes first.
"They will be projects. We don’t want to put a lot of pressure, or any more pressure on them than there already is. They’re rookies, we have to prepare them, not only physically but mentally also," Guiao shared with ABS-CBN Sports. "Part of that is letting them make their mistakes, letting them learn the ropes, and for them to be able to understand, kasi hindi pa talaga nila na-understand yung PBA style. They haven’t played single game in the PBA, so it’s a learning process for them."
"They will not make that impact like Poy will, but they will make our bench and our rotation deeper," he added.
Of the three, Guiao mentioned Porter as possibly the one to get utilized the most, as his position is where the Road Warriors need the most depth after having to let go of a pair of bigs in Michael Miranda and Dave Marcelo to be able to bring in Erram.
"Intially kasi, dahil nga bigs ang weakness namin, si Kris Porter is going to probably be a bit more of use to our rotation. Makakatulong siya sa pag-space ng floor, makakatulong siya sa pag-dagdag ng size sa amin nung nawala si Dave [Marcelo] tsaka si Mike Miranda. He was what we needed, pagdating sa rookies, siya yung makaka-contribute agad sa amin," Guiao expressed.
For his part, the former Blue Eagle is simply ready to provide whatever is needed of him.
"Actually, just anything that coach wants me to do, I’ll do it to the best of my abilities. If he wants to put me on the court to defend, to get rebounds, that’s what I’ll do. Alam naman natin the team is stacked with vets, everyone has their own specific talent, so it’s really all about what Coach Yeng wants from me, and that’s what I’m going to have to produce," said Porter.
Porter was chosen fourth in the second round, and after a rather uneventful run during his stint with Ateneo, the six-foot-five forward is happy to find a home in the pro ranks.
"It’s been a rough year for me, I had to work really, really hard just to be able to compete with my peers that got more experience in the UAAP, kasi alam naman nating lahat that I didn’t get to play much, but now that I’m here, I feel like I’m fitting in well, because of all the work that I’ve put in, all the things that my previous coaches have taught me. It’s a challenge, but one I’m willing to accept."
"Just getting to play, that’s really all I’m looking forward to, just getting to play. It’s not something that I got to a lot of in the past, it’s something I want to do a lot of now," Porter added.
Varilla, who was initially picked by Rain or Shine as the first pick of the second round, didn't get an offer from the ElastoPainters, but has now found a home as well with the Road Warriors.
The six-foot-three former Red Warrior, whose athleticism is said to be a plus for the NLEX coaching staff, knows that it's his energy that will help earn him some minutes on the floor.
"I know that personally, what I can bring is my energy. Every night, I believe in my energy and what I can do on the defensive end, so I can help the team out there a lot."
Like Porter, Varilla says that he's ready when his number gets called on during gametime.
"I expect myself to be ready when Coach Yeng wants me on the court, whether if it’s one second, or two seconds, or a minute, or 20 minutes, it’s all on him, I just expect myself to be ready."
"[I'm looking forward to] just getting on the court whenever I can, but more importantly, I’m more excited on the learning aspect, because making the transition from the other leagues that I’ve been to, the PBA is a different league, and I’m just excited to learn day by day what it takes to become a great PBA player," he added.
A former standout for the Fighting Maroons, Lao was a late-third round pick for the Road Warriors.
Even though he's a late selection, the six-foot sharpshooter is fully ready to prove that he's also deserving of some on-court minutes, even among a stacked pool of NLEX guards, that includes the likes of Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Larry Fonacier.
"Of course it’s a motivation, everybody wants to play, to actually get playing time and make the team, syempre. Not because I’m a rookie or I’m younger than the other guys, it doesn’t mean that I need to be on the bench or watching them play. Personally I want to compete and give the best that I can to actually, maybe get some more playing time in the season or something."
More importantly, however, Lao is also ready to learn from his veterans as well.
"Between competition and being in the team as a new guy, I also want to learn as much as I can from the veterans, sina Kuya Larry [Fonacier], sina Kiefer [Ravena], sina Kevin [Alas]. Even if sila yung ka-posisyon ko, syempre andami ko ding matututunan sa kanila eh, the little things, adjustments in the PBA game, ibang-iba kasi sa other leagues."
For Lao, the PBA experience is nothing short of a dream come true, and now that he's here, he's ready to show that he belongs in the Philippines' premier basketball league.
"Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a PBA player, to show and to prove to myself na I can play with the best of the best, playing with the likes of Jayson Castro, Paul Lee, Alex Cabagnot. It’s a whole new experience for me. Siguro in the Philippines andaming basketball fanatics, and everybody wants to be in the PBA, and now I have the chance. It’s not an everyday thing."