Only half of the 12-team field made a decision to tap an Asian import in the PBA Governors Cup.
But after covering the first half of the single-round eliminations, it is obvious that expansion squad KIA, Talk ‘N Text, Meralco and GlobalPort stand to benefit from this novelty idea by league chairman Patrick Gregorio.
By bringing in Jett Chang (Tsung Hsien-Chang), the Carnival acquired a legitimate inside-outside scoring threat.
It is no wonder that KIA (3-2) is currently in contention for the top Four in the season-ending conference. The Carnival knocked off the San Miguel Beer (83-78), NLEX Road Warriors (85-82) as well as Blackwater (83-76 double OT), but lost close contests to Barangay Ginebra (105-98, after leading by three late in the game), as well as Star Hotshots (89-80).
The sweet-shooting Chang, who played college ball at Brigham Young U-Hawaii, is averaging 16.2 points, second-best among Asian imports, just behind NLEX Syrian gunner Michel Madanly’s 17.4 points per contest average.
Even GlobalPort is benefitting from the addition of Palestinian guard Omar Krayem, who is fast gaining a reputation as a solid, no-fear gunner.
The 5-foot-11 guard, who has resided in Sweden since 2012, is averaging 14.4 points for the Batang Pier. Krayem scored 19 points and was responsible for sending the game into overtime in GlobalPort’s 111-108 loss to Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Ando, a 22-year-old Japanese, brings stability to Meralco’s backcourt, which for the last two seasons has been manned by veteran playmaker Mike Cortez.
Meantime, Daghles needs no introduction. Filipino diehard cage fans remember Daghles, the Jordanian playmaker, who helped the tiny Middle East country eliminate the Philippines in the playoff round of the 2009 and 2011 Fiba-Asia men’s championships, respectively.
As for Ginebra, Korean import Kim Jiwan had a decent performance in his debut game Wednesday, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds and issuing three assists, while playing defense, too in the Kings’ 111-108 overtime win over GlobalPort.
And for sure, Kim is bound to get better, especially as he gets the feel of Ginebra coach Frankie Lim’s system and know his teammates more in the coming weeks.
I have no doubt that the Asian reinforcements, a brainchild of league chairman Patrick Gregorio, can benefit the PBA long-term – as far as increasing the competitive level of the pro league, and attracting more foreign fans into the playing venue.
But like most of the PBA coaches today, my only wish is for officiating to improve dramatically. Why? Because stinky officiating leaves cage fans disgruntled. It only spoils the beauty of the game.