PBA: Meralco finding early success in Tony Bishop move
MANILA, Philippines–He wasn’t Meralco’s first choice. Heck, he wasn’t even the next name on the list when the Bolts’ resident import, Allen Durham, couldn’t make it here.
But Tony Bishop Jr. sure has been a fortuitous find.
“For me, I just arrived in a good situation with this group of guys,” Bishop told the Inquirer while the league went on a break.
Bishop currently leads Meralco in points, board, and on defense in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup. He also has them unbeaten so far.
“Our chemistry’s really high. When I came in, I can tell that these guys are really together. And I just fit right in,” the Panamanian said.
Durham was unavailable for the Bolts because he has a live contract with his Japanese ball club. In his place, Meralco hoped to bring in National Basketball Association campaigner Shabazz Muhammad.
But that didn’t pan out, too, opening an opportunity for Bishop to join a line of imports who have come in as replacements and lead their teams to titles.
Among them is Justin Brownlee, who took over Paul Harris’ slot at Ginebra and blossomed to a multititled import. Brownlee and the defending champions Kings will be in the Bolts’ way anew, like they have been during the times Durham was here.
There’s also Chris McCullough, who replaced PBA veteran Charles Rhodes in San Miguel Beer’s campaign midway through the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup and leading the Beermen to the crown.
“The great thing about Tony is he’s a smart player and a team player. Allen Durham’s the same way,” said Meralco cornerstone Chris Newsome.
“They’re just different in the sense that AD’s more of a bang in the paint, bully his way to the basket. Tony’s a little more finesse, has more length and he trusts his jump shot a lot more,” he went on.
“It’s almost as if he’s been a part of this team for some time,” he added.
Bishop is currently averaging 32 points, 15 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals for Meralco.
“You never really know, man. A lot of guys can play basketball. And it all just boils down to the right fit with the right team. You never really know,” Bishop explained. “Some guys come into a situation and don’t play well, but it doesn’t mean they can’t play basketball.”
But Bishop believes it is too early for the Bolts to live on their unbeaten mark. After all, that’s just a two-game sample.
“We have a lot of roads ahead of us, and we just have to keep on going,” he said.