Coach Norman Black believes that in due time, Alex Stepheson will be the import Meralco is expecting him to be in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“He fill our needs in the middle, but we still need to give Alex time to get in shape,” the famed mentor said.
Still lagging in terms of conditioning, Stepheson still performed admirably in his first dip in the PBA, posting 11 points, 21 rebounds, and three blocks in the Bolts’ 94-86 conference-opening win over Mahindra.
Black shared that he sees the 29-year-old filling up the role left by last year’s imports Allen Durham and Arinze Onuaku, both of whom won Best Import awards last season.
“We figured we had to take care of that need which is to get a big man who can man that center spot and of course control the defensive boards similar to what we did with Arinze and with AD. He gives us a chance to get a better balance as far as our team is concerned and it gives us a better chance of winning against the better teams,” he said.
Though elated with the victory, Stepheson acknowledges that he still has tons to work on.
“We got a good win. I got to find my touch around the basket but it was a good game. I’m glad we won and we really played well as a team,” he said.
Luckily for Stepheson, Meralco’s locals were on-point, alleviating the pressure from him as he eyes to perform better in the coming games.
“Cliff (Hodge) stepped up big. Baser (Amer) was really good at the point guard. Chris Newsome played well, and Kelly (Nabong) played big in the four position. But again, we still have a lot to clean on and we still have a lot to work on,” he said.
Stepheson was truly hard on himself as he seeks to correct the miscues he had in his debut.
“Down low, I need to slow down a little bit and find my touch around the basket. I also need to improve my free throws. Defensively is a little bit different but I’ll adjust to that and I think we’ll be okay,” he said.
The Bolts return to action on Sunday against NLEX.