Third time’s a charm?
Twice, Allen Durham has shepherded the undersized Meralco Bolts to the championship by playing bigger than his frame.
Twice he’s been foiled by Barangay Ginebra and the Kings’ resident import, Justin Brownlee. Since he first powered Meralco to a title series in the PBA, Ginebra has gone on to win three championships.
So it is easy to understand the hunger and desire fueling Durham as he returns yet again to finally complete his unfinished business.
“We want to win the championship. We weren’t able to accomplish that for the past two seasons, so it makes us hungrier this time around,” Durham said.
In a conference where imports determine the destiny of every team, Durham will be the power source for Meralco, which opens its Governors’ Cup bid against Columbian on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Bolts will open their bid against the Columbian Dyip at 4:30 p.m., with Durham facing Akeen Wright in an exciting tussle of explosive imports.
At about 7 p.m., sister ballclubs NLEX and TNT KaTropa also make their tournament debuts.
Durham has had some sort of a consolation in each of those heartache Finals losses to the Kings. He was named Best Import both times. But with Brownlee spearheading the Gin Kings anew in this tournament, there is added motivation for Durham to push the Bolts over the hump.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone branded Brownlee as the “Michael Jordan” of the league, a yardstick for all the imports, after winning the best import award in the Commissioner’s Cup and leading the Kings to their 11th conference trophy overall.
“I’m up to the challenge. I just have to ready on the floor every single game,” said Durham.
The Kings and the Beermen won’t see action in the first two weeks of the conference while the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who lent their core to the national team in the Asian Games, will play their opener in five weeks’ time.
Returning import AZ Reid is on a mission to accomplish what Renaldo Balkman failed to achieve with the Beermen in the previous tournament as San Miguel begins the conference opposite the NLEX Road Warriors on Sept. 1 after the Kings start their title defense versus the Dyip the day
Oluseyi Ashaolu of NLEX is ready to test TNT’s Mike Glover with the Road Warriors missing head coach Yeng Guiao, whose services were tapped by the PH men’s basketball squad in the Indonesian Asiad.
Among the other returning imports are Phoenix Petroleum’s Eugene Phelps, Blackwater’s Henry Walker, Rain or Shine’s J’Nathan Bullock and Magnolia’s Romeo Travis.
Newcomers in the reinforcement roster are GlobalPort’s Rashad Woods and Alaska’s Mike Harris.
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