Holt vows to make impact in PBA
BY RICHARD DY
The Manila Times
ALL eyes are on Filipino-American guard Stephen Holt heading to the PBA Season 48 after heading the 2023 pro league’s Draft Class following Sunday’s proceedings at the Market! Market! in Taguig. A record 79 players out of 124 aspirants were drafted in the PBA draft, witnessed by a jam-packed crowd at the famed mall in Taguig. Holt didn’t make it on Draft day, but watched from his residence in Portland, Oregon as his name was called by Terrafirma’s superstar Juami Tiongson, making him the Dyip’s No. 1 pick in this year’s PBA draft. Shortly thereafter, he was interviewed live via video patch by the PBA television panelists led by Magoo Marjon, along with coaches Charles Tiu of College of St. Benilde and La Salle’s Topex Robinson. “I’m a two-way player. I’m committed on both ends of the floor defensively and offensively. I’m known for being a shooter, and I’m pretty athletic, can rebound and get to the basket,” when asked to describe in a nutshell what he can bring to the Dyip, a PBA franchise that has languished in the doldrums for many years. “Definitely (I’ll) try to make an impact, follow the lead on and off the floor, and hopefully have a good season.” Holt admitted he had to turn down offers to continue playing in Europe in order to start a new pro career in the PBA. “Definitely one of my goals in my career [is] to play in the PBA. You know I started out my career trying to pursue my NBA dream,” explained the 31-year-old Holt, who came out of a stellar collegiate career with Saint Mary’s, saw action for the Canton Charge in the NBA G League during the 2014-15 season, averaging 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 49 games. “It (NBA attempt) fell a little bit short but then I was able to have a long career in Europe and played in some high-level leagues,” the 2023 PBA Rookie Draft top overall pick said. The shifty Filipino-American guard managed to play six games for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2015 NBA Summer League, where he averaged 7.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Last June, Holt came to Manila to work on and secure his Philippine passport. His Manila visit gave him a better understanding of Filipino basketball and its culture, while declining offers from European teams. “The opportunity came about in June for me to get my Philippine passport. I talked with my agent all this time and it was a no-brainer for me to take advantage of that and make the jump over to the PBA,” Holt said matter-of-factly. “I had to fully commit, turn down a bunch of European offers this summer, and really just want to commit to the PBA for this upcoming year so I’m very excited,” he added.