Nuggets' Faried awed by Filipinos' basketball passion, skills (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines Call it a mantra, call it motivation. Or better yet, the “Manimal’s Machinations.”

Talking to the members of the media at the sidelines of the NBA 3X Philippines, the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried forward did not mince any words.

“Just don’t believe what everybody would say,” Faried said. “It doesn’t matter what everyone else think about you.”

Faried, who carved out a career off his bottomless energy on the court, shared that such mind-set has been the sail of his ship.

“Everybody’s saying ‘You can’t make it to the NBA,’ everybody’s saying ‘You can’t play for the Denver Nuggets,'” he said. “I’ve been proving people wrong my entire life.”

The 6-foot-8 front court dynamo has come a long way from being drafted late in the first round. He has now become the centerpiece of the Nuggets, having an equally young and stellar career.

Faried made his two All-Americans and two US NCAA records as a springboard to an promising career. A year after turning pro in 2011, he was selected as part of the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. He went on to suit up for the United States’ men’s national basketball team that won the gold medal in Spain in 2014.

His ferociousness and work ethic both on and off the court earned him the tag “The Manimal.” Such display also drew comparisons to a ’90s force in Dennis Rodman, which turns out to be someone Faried has looked up to, growing up.

In a separate interview, Faried mentioned about his dreams of snaring an NBA championship. But right now, what matters is the task at hand. Additionally, among the items in his to-do list is to improve himself.

“I’m trying not to worry about my whole team,” he quipped. “Right now, I’m focused on myself. I’m trying to make myself better to help my team be better.”

“I’m looking to get better at every aspect. [Even if it’s] outside threes, if it’s middle range [shots], if it’s just my free throws, I want to be better.”

Faried assures we’ll see more leadership from his end in the next NBA season. “I got to step up and be the leader that the Nuggets need.”

“I believe in myself. The people around me believe in me,” he said when the conversation took a turn on his chances of making the Olympic roster. Faried is among the few NBA cagers selected for Team USA’s pool for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I think I can make the cut,” said Faried, a first-time visitor to the Philippines. He is here alongside San Antonio guard Danny Green for the NBA Philippines’ 3-on-3 festivities.

Asked about his honest assessment of Filipino basketball talent after three days of being in the country, Faried was quick to say that “I think anyone has what it takes.”

He even went on to sing the kids’ praises, “The kids? Man, a lot of the moves they have, I didn’t even know when I was younger. The ‘euro-steps, for example. Just watching these kids handle the ball so well”

“It’s amazing how much the game has grown,” Faried added.

In the same breathe of amazement, he reverted back to what drives him in the game of basketball: “I think anyone has what it takes [to be in the NBA]. You just gotta believe in yourself, I keep proving everybody wrong my whole life and that’s my inspiration to kids.”

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