Nick Rakocevic on Abueva, adobo, the hardest imports to protect

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CHICAGO — As he collapsed to the floor of Araneta Coliseum last October 5, grimacing and writhing in pain and discomfort, fear ran through his entire being.

“It was scary,” Nick Rakocevic told me in a phone interview.

Although the injury turned out to be just a bone bruise and nothing more serious, it was an ordeal every hoop would rather not go through.

Luckily for the Magnolia import, that collision with teammate Jackson Corpuz is the only bad experience he has had as a PBA import. Everything else was just a dream.

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Here it is, in his own words.

SPIN.PH: How are you doing there?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: “I love the Philippines. It’s amazing here, the food, the culture and the people. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. It was very easy for me to adapt.

SPIN.PH: Have you tried the local cuisine? What do you like so far?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: Yes, Mesa Mano is one of the restaurants I’ve been to. Chicken and pork adobo are really good, as is the beef caldereta.

SPIN.PH: Have you visited any sites?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: I haven’t been much because I’m here on business and trying to stay focused. But I had the chance to visit BGC and this place is special.

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SPIN.PH: Moving on to hoops, how does the PBA style of play differ from the CBA in China?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: The style of play is similar. Very fast and lots of guys who can score at a high level.

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SPIN.PH: Who is your favorite player at Magnolia?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: I love all my teammates. I can’t really pick a favorite. I have a special bond with each of them. I am so happy to be part of the team.

SPIN.PH: Which local PBA player impressed you the most?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: All the local PBA players can really play, it’s hard to say just one. I’m lucky to play with Magnolia’s amazing guards.

SPIN.PH: What is the hardest import to defend?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: All of the imports are truly skilled, but among the hardest to keep are Lester Prosper (Terrafirma) and Quincy Miller (Converge). Both are able to shoot past 3, go inside and out.

SPIN.PH: Calvin Abueva has a reputation for irritating opposing teams, how is he as a teammate?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: Calvin is an incredible person, on and off the pitch. We are great friends.

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SPIN.PH: One of the brightest and brightest coaches in the PBA, what’s it like playing for Chito Victolero?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: Coach Chito is one of the favorite coaches I have played for. His preparation and attention to detail are outstanding. We have a special relationship and I can’t wait to continue playing for him.

SPIN.PH: Magnolia is 5-0 largely because you’re averaging 30 points and 18.6 rebounds per, do you feel the opposing defenses are tightening up on you?

NICK RAKOCEVIC: I feel the defense has become more aggressive, but I’m just trying to play my game in our team’s system.

NICK TRIVIA. Magnolia rolled out the red carpet on Rakocevic. The team has put him up in a beautiful hotel and he has a car and a driver at his disposal 24 hours a day.

“Magnolia has been amazing. Everything has been top notch. I’m so happy to be part of the organization,” he said.

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Nick, 24, is single, but unfortunately for the ladies, not quite ready to mingle.

“I’m here for work,” and that explains why he only keeps his eyes on the ball, not the pretty ladies who flock to games.

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Basketball is a team sport. The same goes for Nick’s rise to success.

A star in both high school (St. Joseph in Chicago) and college (USC), Nick has an incredible support system that has allowed him to reach the heights of professional basketball.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my grandmother, Maria Savovich. My mother, Denise Rakocevic, and my brother, Pete Rakocevic, have also been there for me every step of the way. I am immensely grateful.”

And the PBA, I’m sure, is also grateful to have an import like Nick Rakocevic.

A gifted all-around player and a nice All-Star guy.

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