LeRoy Hickerson had a busy Friday itinerary.
After arriving straight from Los Angeles, he joined Barako Bull practice, proceeded to the Games and Amusements Board office for his pro license, before going to the PBA office for height measurements.
Hickerson had enough energy left in the afternoon to lead Barako Bull to a 111-107 comeback victory over Petron Blaze at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. He finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists to carry the Energy to their second win in four matches.
“Five letters: L-U-C-K-Y,” said Barako Bull coach Junel Baculi about the win.
“It’s good LeRoy has played here before and he knows some of our players. He also knew some of the local players from Petron, so his adjustment wasn’t difficult.”
Hickerson made several big plays down the stretch. He fed Ronald Tubid on a breakaway layup that put Barako Bull in the lead for the first time, 109-107, with 33.8 seconds to go.
In the next play, Hickerson showed his defensive prowess. He blocked Eddie Basden’s strong drive, which set up Willie Miller for two charities.
Hickerson, who saw action for the franchise when it still carried the Air 21 brand in 2010, then ensured Barako Bull’s win with his split charities with only four-tenths of a second left.
To think Barako Bull was preparing for the possibility of playing without Hickerson.
“We were bracing for the worst thing to happen,” said Baculi. “We were prepared to play all-Filipino just in case LeRoy Hickerson fails the height limit.”
But there were stretches were Hickerson let the locals took center stage. The mindset of the locals about possibly going all-Filipino got them ready.
Doug Kramer had a double-double performance, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds in what was easily his most productive game in a Barako Bull uniform.
Ronald Tubid also had 17 points, including the go-ahead basket off a feed from Hickerson that gave the Energy their first taste of the lead, 109-107, 33.8 seconds left in regulation.
Miller contributed 16 points, including a game-tying lay up that made up for his early miscue, 58 seconds left in the game.
“LeRoy, at some point, were setting up the locals and let them do their thing. I don’t know whether he’s tired or he’s a team player, I assume he’s more of the latter. But there were instances were he was acting like a coach on the floor. The locals were responsive on Hickerson.”
Barako Bull (111) — Hickerson 32, Tubid 17, Kramer 17, Miller 16, Najorda 10, Allado 9, Weinstein 3, Pennisi 3, Cervantes 2, Gatumbato 2, Sharma 0, Cruz 0.
Petron (107) — Basden 23, Washington 23, Lutz 16, Cabagnot 12, Yeo 8, Santos 8, Ildefonso 8, Pena 7, Miranda 2, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 30-34, 52-64, 84-91, 111-107