MANILA, Philippines – Robbie Herndon was not supposed to play in Magnolia's first game of the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup, having sustained a back injury a week before the start of the conference.
Yet not only did the rookie wind up playing for the Hotshots, he also came up with one of the biggest shots of the contest that propelled Magnolia to a 108-95 victory over the Alaska Aces on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
"I was frustrated that four days before the game, I got a back injury," said Herndon, who was acquired by Magnolia in a post-draft trade with GlobalPort. "I was doubtful if I was gonna play."
"But we got some awesome trainers here, and we worked on it every day," he added. "I was able to play, so I'm just super excited that I was able to play today."
It turned out to be a mostly solid debut for Herndon, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds in less than 20 minutes. He also knocked down a tough jumper to beat the shot-clock with 1:26 left that restored a double-digit Magnolia lead, 105-95 – a shot that served as the dagger.
Herndon downplayed his clutch basket, however. "I didn't see the clock and how much time was left," he explained. "I just heard that '3, 2, 1,' so I kind of threw it up there, and it went in."
More than hitting the big shot, Herndon was just pleased to have seen action, especially as his father attended the game at the San Juan venue.
"My dad flew out today and surprised me, I didn't know he was here. He flew out and surprised me, it would have been sad if I wasn't able to play in front of him," Herndon said.
Herndon is now looking forward to playing at an even bigger stage, as Magnolia is set to face off against rival Barangay Ginebra in the Manila Clasico on Christmas Day at the Philippine Arena.
"I've heard about how crazy the game is, the Manila Clasico," said Herndon. "I'm just excited, we're just focused on the win and just thankful for all the fans that will show up and support us."
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