Sorry to disappoint you Air21 Express fans. The Express are not hiring resident import Shawn Daniels for this yearâ€™s edition of the Fiesta Cup. The team enlisted CBA veteran Steve Thomas, a 6’9″ 245-lb boardworker to be its reinforcement in the coming conference. According to reports, Thomas is a tough, physical specimen who makes a living inside the shaded lane – the kind of talent badly needed by the team whose frontline firepower boasts only of Ranidel de Ocampo, Homer Se (who was nearly released to Coca-Cola this offseason), rookie Doug Kramer, mid-season transferee Gabby Espinas, and the seemingly soft Ervin Sotto.
Thomas led the CBA in both rebounding (11.4 rpg) and FG shooting (62.5%) and is also number 2 in blocks (1.8 bpg) while playing for the East Kentucky Miners. The Express lost sharpshooting guard Jec Chia to Talk N Text in the offseason but his absence is not expected to be felt much by the team as the sensational Arwind Santos can carry the scoring load for the team, ably supported by the holdovers Nino Canaleta, de Ocampo, Wynne Arboleda and last yearâ€™s leading scorer Gary David. David played only 4 games last conference after suffering an injury but he is expected to be better and resume his hot shooting ways.
Se was a pleasant surprise last conference, displaying never before seen offensive potential but he was also responsible for the fourth highest turnover totals (52) on the team. There is also reason to get excited over the play of rookies Marvin Cruz, JC Intal and Kramer. They were magnificent in some spurts and will get better as the season nears the homestretch.
If the Express intend to make some headway this coming conference, they will need all players to be focused and healthy, notably David, and Thomas need to prove that he is better than Daniels. If not, weâ€™ll likely see the Incredible Bulk playing again in the middle of the conference and you know he wonâ€™t get the Express past the semis.