NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez is not only getting a seasoned NBA veteran in Bill Walker for the 2016 Governors’ Cup, he’ll also get that intensity he wants from his team for the upcoming conference.
Walker left a lasting impression on Fernandez’ after versatile forward traded words with equally intense coach Yeng Guiao of Rain or Shine during his last tour of duty with Alaska in 2014.
“Nakita ko lang talaga siya when he played with Alaska in 2014 where they played Rain or Shine in the semifinals and medyo nagkasagutan siya with coach Yeng,” said Fernandez Friday after the Road Warriors’ practice at FLC Gym.
Walker, who played for the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Boston in the NBA, last played in the Croatian league.
It was during his time in the Big Apple when Walker stood toe-to-toe with Bean Town teammate Kevin Garnett.
Walker was subject to Garnett’s choke when the then-Celtics power forward missed the game-winner in the season opener of the 2011-2012 NBA season.
“Iba yung intensity ni Bill,” said Fernandez, whose team finished 3-8 in the 2014 Governor’s Cup. “Defender siya then he can score.”
Fernandez plans to use the 6’6” Walker to play the power forward spot giving center Asi Taulava freedom to roam the paint for NLEX.
NLEX’s Asian import is point guard Rodrigue Akl from Lebanon.
Fernandez initially wanted a couple of big men to add to his roster but with a Taulava and Enrico Villanueva in the fold, he’ll be hard pressed to use all of his bigs come the Governors’ Cup.
“Advantage sa amin if he plays the 4 with Asi in the post, dapat kukuha ako ng 4 and 5 but with Asi and Rico there masyadong marami sa rotation,” said Fernandez. “Kinuha ko si Bill because he can play the 4 and 3 positions and he’s a good defender so fit siya sa sistema namin.”
Fernandez paired Taulava with 6’8” forward Al Thornton during the Commissioner’s Cup, freeing up the inside for Taulava to operate while the former Washington Wizard played in the wings.