MANILA, Philippines –As the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers whooped it up on the court last Wednesday night, one man was in the background hoping to be enjoying the same kind of moment months from now.
James Mays, the earliest among the bumper crop of imports to arrive for the PBA Commissioners’ Cup, saw first-hand how great the chemistry the Mixers have which fuelled their back-to-back title romp.
The 6-8 import, who nearly came last season to replace Petron Blaze import Renaldo Balkman after the infamous choking incident, sees himself blending well with the Mixers’ current brew.
“I don’t feel any pressure. I feel like the team and the camaraderie that it has I’m going to jell really good with them,” said Mays, who was spotted by Tim Cone in the D-League Showcase last year.
Mays, who also had stints in Puerto Rico and China, has been practicing with the second and third unit of the Mixers since he arrived late January.
Cone hopes that his early arrival will work to their advantage given the short break that they will be having before the next conference starts on Wednesday.
“He’s been able to watch the things what we do. He’s played in one tune-up game last week with the guys like Isaac Holstein but he has never played yet with the first group,” Cone said.
The American coach, who is now the winningest after surpassing Baby Dalupan’s 15 PBA titles, also shared that the team will take breaks by group to break in Mays slowly into their system.
The starters were the first group to be given a five-day break after winning the championship last Wednesday. Cone, whose triangle system gives everyone equal opportunity to shine, will not depend on Mays heavily but he is expecting his basketball IQ and strong inside play will come in handy.
“I don’t think there will be a lot of pressure for me to come in and do everything because we got a lot of great players in the team and everybody pretty knows much their roles,” Mays said. “I feel like I’m going in as another piece of the puzzle that I hope would be great.”
Cone hopes to have a complete lineup at practice on March 7 or 8 as the Mixers will not see action until March 12 when they take on GlobalPort Batang Pier.
With the Mixers chasing a third straight championship to cement their dynasty under Cone, Mays is quick to temper the fans’ expectations.
“I don’t want to guarantee a championship but I know we’ll be in the playoffs,” said Mays, who promised to bring in intensity and defensive tenacity.