White gives Enforcers coach ‘MJ moment’ with first win
The 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup is only a day old but it seems the chemistry between Mahindra coach Chris Gavina and his import James White seems to have been built for more than 24 hours.
During the Enforcers’ opening game against Star, White approached his coach and told him a quote Michael Jordan once told Doug Collins.
“He gave me the Michael Jordan moment,” said Gavina Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “Coach, I’m not going to let you lose your first game.”
That quote was what Jordan, considered the greatest basketball player of all time, told Collins when the latter coached his first game with the Bulls.
White then backed up his promise, putting up 22 points and eight boards en route to Mahindra’s 100-92 overtime win against the Hotshots.
His most emphatic point-rebound sequence came in the closing seconds of regulation when threw down KG Cañaleta’s missed layup attempt with 49.9 seconds remaining to give Mahindra an 87-86 lead.
White, a graduate of Georgia Tech, said it’s Gavina’s “contagious” confidence that allowed him to spew out the quote and delivered when it mattered.
“Just the fact that all the adversity I went through from previous years, just having confidence in yourself, it carries over to a lot of people,” said White. “It’s contagious, so I just wanted to let coach know that no matter what, I got your back and our team got your back.”
White applied for the 2016 NBA Draft after four years with the Yellow Jackets where he averaged 7.64 points and 4.82 rebounds, but went undrafted.
It was a major adversity for the 22-year-old, but Manny Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, told him to pick himself up and move along.
Pacquiao is, technically, the head coach of Mahindra.
“I’ve seen him in practice one time and he gave me words of wisdom, saying, ‘no matter what, whatever you go through, you’re going to face adversity and you just got to overcome it, just put in the work,’” said White.
“I looked at it as a blessing with one of the best boxers of the game. I looked at how he can help me conditioning-wise, give me little tips and take it back to the States on how to keep my health up. I think it’s a blessing from God for that opportunity.”
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