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PBA: Ginebra signs hotshot import

LEON Rodgers

Manila, Philippines – After losing Game 7 of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup semifinals a few days back, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is licking its wounds and getting back on track as it prepares for the second conference, the Commissioner’s Cup next month.

And the Kings began by tapping Leon Rodgers as import.

Listed at 6-foot-7, Rodgers, 33, is known for his scoring prowess and will come in fresh following his stint in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) as a member of the Jilin Northeast Tigers where he played alongside former PBA Best Import and ex-San Mig reinforcement Denzel Bowles.

“Nakita namin how he plays sa China,” said Ginebra mentor Ato Agustin.

“He’s a good all-around player, plays the 3-4 positions (small and power forwards). He’s a scorer. Sa tingin naman namin magpi-fit siya sa system namin,” added Agustin.

Rodgers, a three-time MVP in the Dutch Basketball League (DBL), once scored 66 points highlighted by a CBA record of 15 three-pointers in a 124-110 by the Tigers over Shanxi Zhongyu on March 11, 2009.

The onetime North Illinois standout finished the game with 24-of-43 field goal shooting and went 15-of-26 from beyond the three-point area. In his last stint in the CBA where he played 20 games, Rodgers averaged 29.1 points.

Rodgers has a 54.2 field goal shooting percentage and 40.1 percent from three-point territory.

Agustin said training session for the Commissioner’s Cup resumes on Thursday, although he expects Rodgers to be fly in no earlier than Feb. 24. The Kings made it to the finals in the same conference last season but were swept by the Alaska Aces in the five-game series.

Ginebra lost to San Mig Super Coffee in their do-or-die semifinal showdown a few days ago.

After his stint with the Northern Illinois Huskies, Rodgers was ignored in the 2002 NBA draft but managed to have a stellar pro career abroad following his stints in France, Netherlands, Germany, Puerto Rico, China, Venezuela, Colombia and in China.

The other teams already with imports include Alaska with last season’s Best Import Rob Dozier, Rain or Shine with Alex McLean, Globalport has Evan Brock, formerly with Barako Bull, Talk ’N Text has Richard Howell, Air21 has Herve Lamizana, and San Mig has James Mays.

With the exception of Air21 and Meralco, which have been allowed to get reinforcements with a height limit of 6-foot-11, the other eight teams will have reinforcements no taller than 6-foot-9 as set by the PBA Commissioner’s Office.