PBA: Cade Flores’ work ethic, dedication continue to impress NorthPort
MANILA, Philippines—Donning a face mask and civilian clothes, Northport’s Cade Flores watched the team practice on Wednesday in Quezon City where coach Bonnie Tan presided over the team training.
One would ask why he was taking his sweet time on the sidelines away from practice. After all, the first week of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup practice saw him as the best performing rookie for the Batang Pier.
This wasn’t him being lazy or nonchalant. This was him being devoted to the system; despite being sick all the while.
Tan, fresh off practice, attended the University of Santo Tomas game on Wednesday in the UAAP and couldn’t help but narrate his new competitor’s dedication to the sport.
“Even though he was feeling something this morning, I was texting him because initially, he wasn’t allowed to go to practice because he had coughs. What I did was, I called him because he didn’t want to miss a single practice, I told him wear a mask, stay isolated, don’t sit beside them (players) and sit on the bench,”
“I told him to watch practice and learn new things because he really wants to learn and he doesn’t want to miss practice even if he’s sick so he was allowed by our PT (physical therapist). After that, he took his meds and got his recovery food. I’m very happy with his attitude, it reflects in the game that he’s a hardworking player.”
Flores averaged a near double-double in his debut week in Northport with norms of 9.5 markers and 10.5 boards per game.
It seems as though his over-the-top aggressiveness cost him a bit as he went down with coughs, colds and body aches.
But that didn’t seem to faze the undersized bruiser. According to Tan, his dedication to the sport was the exact reason why he was drafted in a high order.
With the 11th pick, Batang Pier had numerous choices to pick from, including, but not limited to Kemark Cariño, Henry Galinato, Ricci Rivero and James Kwekuteye, to name a few.
Yet, the veteran tactician chose the Australian player after seeing his competitiveness in the collegiate ranks.
“Cade was our 11th pick so people were saying that, of course, the best available talents would be in the top 10, sometimes even just five. Those are where you can see the best talents that would give an impact right away,” said Tan in Filipino.
“What I looked for with Cade was not if he was the best talent, but if he was the best available hard-worker.”
Flores’ perseverance on both ends of the court was seen by Tan as early as last year when the 6-foot-4 powered Arellano to stun the former collegiate coach’s Letran, 72-69, last year in the first round of the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament.
He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in that game, putting the whole league on notice and eventually winning the league’s Rookie and Defensive player of the Year awards.
When Tan was asked who Flores’ mentor was that fueled the Aussie to a great start in the PBA, the rookie didn’t say it was the team’s veterans like Jeff Chan, Joshua Munzon or even Arvin Tolentino, who won the first iteration of the PBA Player of the Week for the 48th season.
Surprisingly, it was the Batang Pier’s Commissioner’s Cup reinforcement Venkatesha Jois, Flores’ fellow Australian.
“They’re both Australians, him and Venky. I introduced them but even before I did, I already informed Cade, ‘I’ll bring in one of your kababayans,’ and he was excited. ‘Really?’ he even asked,” revealed Tan.
“That’s who became his actual mentor. I’m also telling Venky to guide Cade because he’s a rookie. Venky’s 30-years-old, more experienced compared to Cade who’s only 24-years-old.”
It’s uncertain whether Flores would be cleared to play for Northport on Friday when they face fellow league leader Magnolia at Araneta Coliseum.
What is certain, though, is the 24-year-old athlete would be there in Tan’s practices with the Batang Pier. Sick or not sick. Mask or no mask. Hell or high water. Because that’s just how he operates.