14 July 2017

Durham is Meralco's Ideal Import

Allen Durham
There is always a sense of seriousness in Meralco Bolts practice this last couple of weeks. They know that they were close to nailing their first ever PBA title last year, but got ambushed by Barangay Ginebra and Justin Brownlee's triple.

The 2017 PBA Governor's Cup will kick off on the 19th of July and Meralco hopes that they have improved a lot from last year's Finals-worthy performance.

Allen Durham, the former Best Import awardee, arrived the other week and it seems like he's been here for months.

After the runner-up finish last year, Durham told his team mates to "remember this feeling" and added, "Hopefully, Meralco will have me back next season and if that's the case, we got unfinished business. Some guys will get back to work in All-Filipino and I'll go back home to work and see what happens."

It has been six years since Durham graduated from little-known Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. He went undrafted in the National Basketball Association (NBA) but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his pro basketball dreams.

In these past six years, he’s brought his brand of total basketball to Finland (Salon Vilpas), Romania (CS Dinamo Bucuresti), Philippines (Barako Bull Energy and now with the Meralco Bolts), and France (Hermine Nantes Atlantique). And, of course, there’s the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League, where he split time before returning to Hermine Nantes for his third season.

Total basketball meaning he scores, rebounds, assists, plays defense and is a coach’s dream.

"Playing abroad broadened my horizons," Durham reflects. "Playing for a small school in college, I guess, prepared me for life's realities—that it isn’t going to be easy and that if I want to pursue my dream, nothing will be handed on a silver platter. I have to work for it."

Not going to the NBA didn’t put a damper on Durham’s spirit. "The game has allowed me to step outside my comfort zone," he shares. "Playing many, many miles away from home has made me stronger as a person. I’m alone and I have to learn how to quickly adjust. It isn’t the other way around. That makes you flexible. Besides, I am earning a good living. I am grateful. I shouldn’t complain."

"Playing abroad, you experience different cultures, customs. Like living in France, you know that soccer is their main sport. Although basketball is popular and growing, soccer is still king. You look at what they have and develop an appreciation for that. You learn how to deal and relate to people. If you can't relate, it affects your performance and they aren't going to want you back. For people like me who do not play in the NBA, a contract and a good reputation is important. Through all this, you become appreciative of what you have even back home."

More so when there’s trouble.

On the 13th of November 2016, Durham, who at that time was playing for the Texas Legends were a little over four hours away from their season opener on the road against the Austin Spurs. Word filtered that terrorists struck at three different locations in Paris. Durham, who had made many friends in his two years in France (he would return to Nantes after the D-League season), reached out to his teammates at Nantes.

"Many of my teammates in Nantes had family and friends who worked in the areas that were hit in Paris. I also have been to some of the areas so I was like, 'I know that place.' So the attacks hit home, as well. It is just sad there these things happen. Sometimes it takes tragedies like that to remind you of what is important in your life—your family, your life, health, your job. I definitely would not be able to do this—play abroad—without my family’s support. But the Paris shootings hit home, as well."

"France is beautiful," Durham enthuses of his three years there. "Lots of nice places. Paris is nice. But Monaco ... what a place! Oh, my ... I’d love to live there. But it's very expensive."

From France, Durham was signed by the Bolts who were impressed with him in his previous stint in the PBA.

"It is nice to hear that people appreciate my game," Durham says. "I only played a handful of games the last time I was here so that is nice to know that a team wants me back."

Of Meralco, Allen is happy and excited with his new team, "I like my team and teammates. We've got veterans and talented rookies. Hopefully, we can help them realize the team’s championship dreams."

Durham was an unstoppable force in his second tour of duty in the PBA. He averaged 29.4 points, 15.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game at the end of the semifinal round.

Meralco expects the same energy and production from Durham's third stint in the league. But if current practice is an indicator, he may easily surpass his numbers last year.

No comments:

Post a Comment