Star rookie coach Jason Webb has no plans of tapping an Asian import in the season-ending PBA Governors Cup despite being ravaged by injuries in their recent failed Commissioner’s Cup campaign.
Webb believes the Philippines still has the best players who are 6-4 and below.
“I’m a believer of our local talent. I still believe that at 6-4 and under, we’re one of the better countries when it comes to that height,” Webb told FOX Sports.
The Hotshots are deep in the wing position with the presence of long-time resident star James Yap, Allein Maliksi and Alex Mallari.
The 6-foot-2 Yap and Mallari got hurt and missed games during the Commissioner’s Cup after sustaining separate injuries.
Their absence though gave Allein Maliksi the time to shine, while veteran guard Peter June Simon also had his golden moments during the team’s first-round playoff action that ended in a loss to powerhouse San Miguel on Wednesday.
Other than the mandatory 6-5 import in the Governors Cup for teams that finished among the top 8 in the 1st 2 conferences this season, the Asian reinforcement is optional for PBA clubs as approved by the league’s board during the offseason.
A brain child of Tropang TNT alternate governor Patrick “Pato” Gregorio, the Asian reinforcement was introduced last season during the former’s chairmanship.
For the Governors Cup, Star appears to be the early tournament favorite since the Hotshots are allowed to bring in a 6-9 import by virtue of their inferior standing in the 1st 2 conferences.
Three other teams — Mahindra, Blackwater and Phoenix — are also allowed to tap a 6-9 import for the Governors Cup.
Webb though refused to say if they will still bring back Ricardo Ratliffe, who helped Star to a 5-3 record during his stint since replacing former Best Import Denzel Bowles in the first half of the elimination round.
“I think when we were struggling at 1-4, it really gave us a boost to get someone new para lang mabuhayan yung mga players at magkaroon ng bagong pagsasama,” Webb said.
“But we’ll see what happens though his (Ratliffe) work ethic is really good.” – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava