Import-spiced PBA wars unfold
Ato Agustin now has all the material he needs to make Barangay Ginebra a winner again.
With Michael Dunigan coming to terms with the Gin Kings, Agustin tries to steer the squad to a rousing debut against Meralco as the import-spiced PBA Commissioner’s Cup gets off the ground today at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Dunigan, who saw action for the now-defunct Air21 two seasons ago, comes to the Kings to plug their power-forward hole, joining a squad already teeming with talent led by the 7-foot Greg Slaughter and a bevy of talented guards headlined by former MVP Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio.
The day’s big match is slated at 7 p.m. after KIA Motors, the newcomer which won a game in its first conference, unveils 7-foot-3 Puerto Rican PJ Ramos against Globalport and CJ Leslie in the 4:15 p.m. contest.
The Carnival (formerly Sorento), though, are expected to be without boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, their playing coach, who served as judge in the Miss Universe pageant in Doral, Florida, Sunday night (Monday in Manila).
Dunigan averaged almost 24 points, more than 15 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.4 blocks for the Express in 2013, leading Air21 to the quarterfinals, where it lost to eventual champion Alaska.
As one of the most sought-after imports, Dunigan’s services was the object of a tug-of-war between Ginebra and Meralco.
The Bolts settled for former NBA D-League standout Josh Davies, who will have to man the middle double time for the Bolts. Without a legitimate and reliable big man, Meralco has a huge vacuum in the middle.
Together with Slaughter, the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar, Billy Mamaril and Jay-R Reyes, Ginebra has, hands-down, the tallest frontline in the tournament, one that not even newly crowned Philippine Cup champion San Miguel could rival.
And with a guard rotation that also has Joseph Yeo, Chris Ellis, Mac Baracael and another former MVP in Jay-Jay Helterbrand, Ginebra has suddenly loomed as the team to beat this time.
Agustin will be making his second tour of duty with the Kings, taking over from Jeffrey Cariaso and his Triangle Offense that got the Kings finishing no higher than fifth in two conferences.
The Kings are again expected to play run-and-gun under Agustin since Dunigan—despite his huge frame—can play that type of game.
Ginebra hasn’t gone to the Finals in years even with its souped-up local roster. The Kings fell short in the 2013 All-Filipino under Agustin despite a solid start.
The last time Ginebra was in the Finals, it was swept by the Alaska Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup title series in 2013. That team was reinforced by Vernon Macklin then.
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