Unless Darius Rice, Wesley Wilson, Jameel Watkins and Randy Holcomb can put on a performance that can blow me off, this conference will be destined for the pits. Ok I have relatively high expectations. Coca-Cola and Welcoat have been given a privilege to recruit two imports and ended up with lemons (ok maybe a “lemon” is too harsh a word). Jason Dixon is good. Aaron McGhee is average. Calvin Cage and Cory Santee are quick and nothing else. Steve Thomas is the CBA’s leading rebounder but can’t get 20 rebounds in his PBA debut. Rashon Turner, despite getting 19 rebounds last Sunday, looked ordinary. Adam Parada is ok with a 28-point, 21-rebound, 5-block performance but he did it because he is 7’0″ and utilized his vast experience. And no, he didn’t make me jump for joy either. With this present batch, I expect majority to be given the pink slip in April.
I missed the likes of a Derrick Brown, Billy Ray Bates, Tony Harris, Darren Queenan, David Thirdkill, Carlos Briggs, Bobby Parks, Terrance Bailey, Jamie Waller, and Walker Russell who always put on a show every game and make you watch basketball most of the time. Bates was nicknamed Black Superman because he literally plays like Superman on the court. He can do anything and does things in the most imaginative way. Parks plays simple basketball but is very effective in doing so. Russell was a master showman with his passes and pint-point playmaking skills. And you know Briggs can hurt you from anywhere on the court, even from the parking lot.
Can teams find the same caliber of imports? Absolutely yes, but it’s a lot more difficult now compared to before due to the growing demand for the services of American imports in countries in Europe and Asia. The $20,000 cap for imports does not help either.
The problem with getting 6’9″ and above players is that they’re mostly not known as scorers. They’re power-playing dudes who love to score inside, crash the boards, defend the post. They’re mostly one-dimensional whose offensive repertoire consists only of a dunk, put-back and a hook – things that don’t generate much excitement among the most ordinary basketball fanatics. Ok maybe some 6’9″ dudes are better but they’re not in the NBA for a reason. The good news for these imports is that they can develop their under-developed skills here to earn a ticket to the majors. Kevin Gamble, Vincent Askew and Earl Barron are just some players that I know who got NBA contracts after a stint in the PBA.
So why not get a talented imported who maybe short but can make up for that lack of size with tenacity and better skills. Teams always fall in love with size but a 7-foot monster can only be a great weapon if he has skills that can maximize that advantage.
Purefoods gambled on a perimeter-playing forward despite having problems at the slot. You wonder how the Giants are going to defend against the likes of an Adam Parada, Wesley Wilson and Jameel Watkins in the post with just Enrico Villanueva, Jondan Salvador and Kerby Raymundo? Well, the coaching staff is banking that these big imports will not score much anyway and with Darius Rice’s reputation as a flat-out scorer they have an advantage. Rice’s 6’10” frame at the small forward spot, they believe, will create mismatches inside or outside where he is a lot dangerous.