Now in his seventh-year in the PBA and with his seventh franchise, Rabeh Al-Hussaini hopes this will be his last stop
So far, Rabeh Al-Hussaini’s stint in the PBA has looked like a career filled with untapped promise and potential. But it always ended up as just that, untapped potential.
In Al-Hussaini’s debut with the NLEX Road Warriors, the 6-foot-7 big man played 24 minutes against the Star Hotshots, finishing the game with six markers. And the former Rookie of the Year hopes that this is just a sign of things to come with NLEX.
“Hopefully,” said Al-Hussaini moments after the Road Warriors’ 105-103 defeat.
“Isipin niyo, two days pa lang ako with the team, but I played half the game, so may tiwala sa akin coach ko. I have to replicate that trust.”
In just his first game with NLEX, head coach Yeng Guiao already clearly trusted Al-Hussaini, whom he had coached during his rookie year with Air21 Express back in 2010, as he played the fourth quarter from the start down to the waning moments.
“He’s the one who drafted me, so I’m really happy to that he’s giving me the chance to at least show what I can give on the court,” he added.
That coach-player trust carried on until the final 30 seconds. Guiao designed a play for Wayne Chism, with Al-Hussaini serving as the decoy and the feeder from the post. However, Al-Hussaini saw Chism well covered, so he took the shot over Star’s Tony Mitchell.
Unfortunately for him, his hook shot missed its target, which led to a Jio Jalalon game-winner 19 seconds later.
“Yun talaga iniisip ko ngayon. Sana talaga na-make ko yun,” a regretful Al-Hussaini admitted. “Yung play talaga was for Wayne. I mean, decoy ako to back down and kick, eh medyo nag-sag down yung import so instinct ko na to go up and take the shot.
“Pero ‘di na pumasok eh, sayang. If I made it, saya nun.”
Though the play did not turn out the way he had envisioned it, Guiao was proud of how Al-Hussaini owned up to it in the dugout.
“Nasarapan yata eh, bigla niyang tinira,” Guiao quipped about the final play.
“[After the game] I gave him a piece of my mind. I told him I would rather lose on my own account rather than somebody not following instructions. But on the other hand, you also know that he’s not afraid to take the blame, so that’s also a good sign.”
Still, the product of the Ateneo basketball program remained upbeat despite the heartbreaking loss, saying that he cannot afford to do so, as Guiao does not want to see distressed players.
“Positive ka lang dapat. ‘Di ka puwedeng bumaba. Knowing coach Yeng, ‘pag nagpakita ka ng any negativity, sibak ka. Kailangan buo talaga loob mo,” said Al-Hussaini.
Now that his first game with NLEX is on the books, Al-Hussaini has set his sights on the future with his new team, hoping and wishing that this will be his last stop in the pro league as he is not getting any younger.
“Gusto ko lang talaga makalaro ng maayos. Ang dami ko na ring stops eh. Sa iba, it didn’t really work out well. Sana last team ko na ‘to. I really wanna do good,” he hoped.
“28 na rin ako eh. Siguro I still have four, five years? All out na ‘ko. And I’m all in with coach Yeng.”