When Mitchell met Guiao for the first time, he took the coach’s hand and did the Filipino “mano” to apologize.
Mitchell was NLEX’s first-choice import for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, but he missed several flights booked by NLEX management to the Philippines. In his absence, NLEX made a last-minute decision to book Curtis Washington, who logged 18 markers and 16 boards in their first loss against TNT KaTropa; their opponents’ import Terrence Jones made 41 points and 14 rebounds.
Two days after, NLEX announced through a statement posted to their social media pages that Mitchell would be replacing Washington in the succeeding games. Mitchell had made himself available, arriving in Manila in May 16 after booking his own trip.
“I didn’t know if they would give me a shot, but it was a sense of wanting to prove myself and hoping I could make up for lost time,” Mitchell explained in NLEX’s team statement. “That was irresponsible of me, so I just want to make it up to the team and the coaches.”
Mitchell met with the NLEX coaching staff on Thursday, who are expecting a lot from the 27-year-old athlete from Dallas, Texas.
When Tony Mitchell got the call from the NLEX Road Warriors saying he would play this Saturday, he shouted for joy.
“I was actually with my barber and I started screaming,” he says. “I was just excited to play in the Philippines again and grateful to be given a chance.
Their next opponents are Northport, which won their first game on the same day that NLEX lost theirs.
“I’m so close to Northport’s import Prince [Ibeh] because I’ve know him since he was eight years old,” explains Mitchell. “Dallas is a small city, and we grew up together. I’m very excited to play against him.”
Mitchell describes himself as an intense guy. “Emotional, stubborn, a little bit selfish,” he admits. “But goal-oriented for sure. I just want to get the job done.”
He had been watching NLEX’s game against TNT, thinking of how he could help the team. “I’m bringing my athleticism and my defense ability, for sure. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m ready,” Mitchell says.
Off the court, he quips that he’s the best dancer in the PBA—“Joe DeVance has nothing on me!”
One thing he tries to avoid is overthinking on the court. “If you be worried and nervous, you gonna expose yourself and be unsuccessful. You shouldn’t think too much, you should just focus on doing what you’re meant to do and let your game come through,” he says.
Like many players before him, Mitchell has experienced being on the business end of Guiao’s temper when he played for Star in 2017.
“He cussed me out, but I started it. I gave him a look and he was like, ‘The fuck you looking at? Fuck you!’ I thought Coach Yeng was crazy, but you know, I’m crazy too. So when two guys are crazy, it’s a good shot at being successful because those are people who just want to get things done. It’s all about results.”
Now that he’s playing for Guiao’s team, Mitchell says he’s looking forward to playing for the intense tactician. “Coach Yeng already has his culture set. I’m just here to be part of that. Effort is all about heart and that’s what I want to give.”