After the big boys have had their fun, it’s time for high-flying wingmen and undersized post players. The Governors’ Cup features reinforcements 6-foot-5 and below, but the fun they promise to deliver look to be unlimited. Here’s an early look at them.
Juan Pattillo, Meralco Bolts
(UPDATE: Pattillo would not be reinforcing Meralco, after he was reportedly measured to be over the 6-foot-5 height limit.)
Champ Oguchi, Meralco Bolts
Oguchi would give the Bolts a familiar face. The former Southern Illinois University played 11 games for Meralco in last season’s Governors’ Cup, averaging 28.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over 11 games. He showcased his scoring prowess, posting an average of 4.2 three-pointers per game while shooting 40.2 percent beyond the arc.
He made his debut in the Commissioner’s Cup, scoring 43 points in his very first game after replacing Anthony Dandridge, and was so impressive that Meralco brought him back for the Governors’ Cup.
His stint with the Bolts was cut short by a groin injury, and Meralco brought in Tim Pickett to take over. Pickett was then also hit by the injury bug, and Oguchi played one last game to end the Bolts’ season.
The choice of Oguchi is a curious one, considering that the prospect he replaced, Pattillo, is an inside operator. Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio tried to justify tapping Oguchi: “We need someone who can spread the floor and Oguchi is the type of import we need.” It’s unclear, however, if he really believes those words — or he just doesn’t have a better option at the moment.
Eddie Basden, Petron Blaze Boosters
Basden is an import who’s been around, having played 19 games with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA and spending time in the D-League, Turkey, France, Greece and Brazil. He doesn’t have mind-blowing stats, but he could be interesting to watch this conference.
He’s known more for his defensive ability than his offensive game, having been a dominant force on defense during his college days. He was named Defensive Player of the Year of Conference USA in the NCAA twice and was named National Defensive Player of the Year once by several analysts, including ESPN. He is a lockdown guy on the ball with great instincts for anticipation. He gets a lot of steals without giving up good defensive position. He won’t be a dominant scorer, but he can get easy baskets if left open. He also has good passing and ball-handling skills.
With his court smarts, right attitude and excellent defense, Basden has been described as the kind of player who can dominate a game (at least on the US NCAA level) without scoring. And with him being surrounded by plenty of talent in Petron, especially with their blockbuster acquisition of Marcio Lassiter, he’ll have a chance to do just that this conference.
Rashad McCants, Powerade Tigers
In terms of pedigree, no import this conference comes remotely close to McCants. He averaged 17.6 points per game for the University of North Carolina in the US NCAA, and was part of the 2005 national champion Tar Heels that also featured Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams. He was a first-round pick (14th overall) of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA and played a total of 249 games in his four-year career.
McCants is a gifted scorer, averaging a career-high 14.9 points in just 26.9 minutes per game in his third year in the NBA. He’s a proven NBA-level talent who can just flat-out score. He has excellent range as well, showing the ability to knock down threes with ease. He has some explosiveness and athleticism, and should be a decent defender if he proves to be a willing one. In terms of pure on-court product, McCants should be the hands-down favorite to be the Best Import in the Governors’ Cup.
Powerade, though, will have their hands full of the fiery, outspoken McCants, who once compared playing in UNC to being in jail, and called himself better than 70 percent of players in the NBA. To tell the truth, the guy probably should still be in the NBA. But things have gotten so bad off the court, that in March, he was reportedly signed and released by a team in Puerto Rico in a matter of just one day. If McCants can set the off-court distractions aside and just play, Powerade should go very far this conference. If not, he still gives the already potent Gary David-led Tigers an insane amount of firepower and they should put a lot of points on the board.
Rain or Shine – Jamelle Cornley
Cornley is a former teammate of Filipino-American guard Stanley Pringle at Penn State in the NCAA. Together, they won the NIT, the consolation tournament of college teams that weren’t invited to the NCAA tournament, in 2009 and Cornley was named MVP of the tourney. His most recent stints overseas include 11 games for Lev Hasharon in Israel where he averaged of 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds and a stint with Argentinean club Ciclista where he averaged 21.3 points and was named MVP for the second-division team.
The burly, undersized forward enjoys playing physical and doesn’t mind finishing around the basket with contact, even against bigger players. In college, the 6-foot-5 Cornley was known for once sending Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luke Harangody whining to the referees for his physical play. And though he didn’t show too much of it in college, he seems to have developed a three-point shot as well, shooting a 41.2% clip in Israel. He also displays plenty of heart, winning the NIT title in his last college game with an 18-point, 7-rebound performance despite playing with a shoulder injury.
These attributes – aggressive, physical, huge heart – make Cornley a perfect recruit for Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, of course. He’ll be a great fit with the Elastopainters, but they will have a lot of work to do after a tough finish last conference.
Talk ‘N Text – Paul Harris
Harris is a very familiar face for the Tropang Texters having just suited up for them in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup. He averaged 25.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists, and finished second in the Best Import race behind Ginebra’s Nate Brumfield.
He’s a perfect fit for the up-and-down transition game and the dribble-drive halfcourt offense that Talk ‘N Text likes to run. He’s strong, athletic and built like a football player, which is why few people doubted him when he tweeted about the possibility of attending the NFL draft combine and trying out as a tight end. He has extremely long arms for a guy his size, which helps his tremendously on the defensive end, where he is such a tough, physical presence. He also has an excellent reputation as a rebounder, where he’s made an impact in his college career even from the wing positions.
And in this stretch where Talk ‘N Text has made five straight appearances in the PBA finals, Harris remains the only import to have taken them all the way to the championship. That should bode well for them this conference – the knowledge that Harris knows what it takes, and that he’s actually done it for them before. Depending on the health of their talented local bunch, the Tropang Texters stand a chance of making it six-for-six in terms of final appearances the last two years.
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