Clark life fine with Ahanmisi

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Alaska’s Maverick Ahanmisi was the last player to check in at the Quest Hotel and missed the Aces first three games in the PBA Philippine Cup but now that he’s settled in, the former University of Minnesota guard is enjoying life in the Clark bubble. The icing on the cake is earning Best Player honors to lead Alaska to a 122-119 overtime win over NLEX in the Aces’ final elimination game last Monday.

“I can’t complain,” he said. “Sure, it gets repetitive but it’s all about basketball. I actually like the schedule, it’s compact. We’re doing our job and we love to play. I try to do things different because too much of the same thing isn’t good so I read, play video games. Mike (DiGregorio) is my roommate. We’re a family at Alaska. I played only four games last Governors Cup so this is my first real conference with coach Jeff (Cariaso). I’m super comfortable with everyone, there’s chemistry. I play video games with Abu (Tratter), I’ve known JT (Jeron Teng) from when I played with his bro Jeric at Rain or Shine and Yutien (Andrada) and I won a D-League championship together.”

Ahanmisi, 29, is imbued with a winning tradition from high school to college to the D-League to the PBA. At Golden Valley high in California, he transformed the varsity from a 13-14 team in his sophomore year to a league champion with a 27-4 record as a senior. Ahanmisi played four years at Minnesota, the same school that produced NBA stars Lou Hudson, Mychal Thompson and Kevin McHale and was on the NIT title squad in 2014. Then he powered Café France to the D-League Foundation Cup crown and was on the Rain or Shine team that took the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup trophy.

“I owe it to my upbringing,” he said. “My parents were 20 when I was born and I saw them struggle, trying to do right for our family. That’s where I got my never quit spirit. My father Victor and mother Marissa (Frankera) are registered nurses. They met in nursing school. Mom is from Pangasinan and migrated to the US in her teens. Dad is Nigerian and works as a nursing home administrator while my mother is employed in a senior assisted living facility. When I was a kid, my Filipino relatives would tell me someday, I’d play in the PBA. After graduation, my agent Teddy Archer opened my eyes to playing in the Philippines. I had an offer to play for coach Ariel (Vanguardia) with Malaysia in the ABL but I chose the PBA route. I was 11 on my first trip to Manila when my great grandma passed.”

Ahanmisi said his parents visited Manila at least once a year before the pandemic. “They’d come to watch me and my bro Jerrick play,” he said. “Jerrick’s playing his last year at Adamson and applying for the PBA draft. We’re six years apart and we’ve always played one-on-one. It’ll be a different dynamic playing against him in the PBA but we might even end up playing together, who knows?”

Ahanmisi was Rain or Shine’s first round and third overall pick in 2015. He played 3 1/2 seasons with the Painters then was traded to Alaska last year. “I had a microtear in my patellar tendon in the left knee when I was traded,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, how I’d fit. I knew about the Alaska culture. I was just grateful coach Jeff trusted how I play and appreciated his interest despite my injury. In the bubble, our team governor (Dicky Bachmann) watches all our games, the only one out there. We really appreciate his dedication. That’s how we are at Alaska.”

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