By TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – Are the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings still looking for a savior to help salvage the conference? Or have they already given up hope?
At 2-4 and in a share of eighth spot with Barako Bull, the Kings are not yet out of it, but they are precariously near the edge of the abyss.
They face the well-rested Meralco Bolts (3-3) on Wednesday, with a fifth loss pushing them closer to the brink.
No Ginebra team official would confirm the latest rumor but word is going around that a replacement for Leon Rodgers is finally on his way.
Three names have drifted in and out of the radar screen: NBA journeyman Josh Powell, former Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard Andre Emmett, and ex-Los Angeles D-Fenders in the D-League James Southerland III.
Of the three, 6-foot-7 Powell, 31, owns the best credentials and could be the likely choice in the event.
A product of North Carolina State, the NCAA school that produced the legendary David Thompson, Powell has played a total of 315 games in the NBA, 123 in two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers (2008-10), 64 with the Clippers (2007-08) and 54 with the Atlanta Hawks (2010-11).
The 6-foot-5 Emmett, who could eventually play for the Kings in the Governors’ Cup should he impress the Ginebra coaches, suited up for coach Bob Knight’s Texas Tech and was drafted in the second round (35th overall) by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2004.
Southerland, a 6-foot-7 forward, played at Syracuse University and had the briefest stint with the Charlotte Bobcats. All three notwithstanding, the possibility of the Kings sticking it out with Rodgers cannot be completely discounted, however, especially if the search for a better reinforcement turns out futile and with only three games left in the elimination round of the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup where the
9th and 10th-ranked teams get the boot.
Meanwhile, the Meralco Bolts are reportedly giving 6-foot-11 Brian Butch a last chance to cement his tenure when they take on Barangay Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Butch poured 40 points and hauled down 31 rebounds in a mighty 109-98 comeback win by the Bolts over the Air21 Express last week before succumbing to intestinal flu a few days later before the game against Rain or Shine, scoring just 11 points with 13 rebounds in a 96-79 loss.
Butch was rushed to the hospital after the day due to dehydration and severe spasms.
Only a repeat of his electrifying performance against the Express could probably force the Bolts against bringing in standby import Darnell Jackson, who arrived more than a week ago but had been kept under wraps in the wake of Butch’s resurgence.
In the meantime, the provincial game between defending champion Alaska Milk and San Miguel Beer in the Petron Blaze Saturday Special was waging in earnest at presstime in Binan, Laguna.
Tomorrow at the Big Dome, Rain or Shine (2-3) takes on Globalport (0-6) at 5:45 p.m., while Talk ‘N Text (6-0) battles San Mig Super Coffee (5-1) at 8 p.m.