Denzel Bowles is set to leave any time this weekend, giving way to Korean Basketball League veteran import Ricardo Ratliffe, whose glowing professional basketball credentials could hopefully lift the sagging fortunes of the Star Hotshots in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Listed at 6-8, the 27-year-old Ratliffe is fresh from a stint with the Seoul Samsung Thunder in the KBL. He arrived Saturday lunch time from Korea.
Star coach Jason Webb said he has moved the team’s Saturday practice to 3 p.m. at Ronac gym to give the former Missouri standout some time to rest.
“With our new guy, we only have 1 practice with him but I believe we always have a fighting chance,” Webb told FOX Sports on Saturday.
The Hotshots, currently mired at the bottom of the standings with their 1-4 record, will be facing no less than the defending champion Tropang TNT on Sunday’s main game.
Ratliffe is a proven winner, having led Mobis Phoebus to the 2014 William Jones Cup title en route to capturing the tournament MVP.
The athletic Ratliffe averaged 24.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks for Mobis in the Jones Cup.
The Hotshots are coming off a deflating 92-87 loss to the Barangay Ginebra Kings where Bowles was held down to just 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
The former PBA Best Import though had to leave the team to attend to a closed family member, who passed away a few days ago.
Meantime, TNT seemed to have left its early struggles in the conference with banned import Ivan Johnson behind a gem of an import in David Simon.
The 6-8 Simon, who also came from the KBL via the SK Knights recently, is averaging monster numbers of 34 points, 20 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 blocks. – By Richard Dy
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