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Asian imports a boon for PBA

TnT's Steffphon Pettigrew protects the ball from  Barako Bull's Liam Paul McMorrow and Paolo Hubalde as they try to steal the ball during PBA action at Ynares Antipolo City.    Photo by Tony PIonilla

Globalport owner Mikee Romero lauded the PBA for opening its doors to Asian reinforcements, even likening it to when the NBA began hiring players from Europe and eventually all over the world.

“This marketing strategy is a stroke of genius,” said Romero yesterday.

“It’s like when the NBA opened up its teams to be beefed by European countries. Tony Kukoc (from Croatia) was one of the first Euro players to transfer to the NBA and it has opened a more exciting NBA,” added Romero.

The PBA Board of Governors, chaired Pato Gregorio of Talk ’N Text, approved the hiring of Asian imports as option for the 12 teams with a height limit of 6-foot-3 for the Governors Cup.

So far, six teams have availed of that option, including Romero’s Batang Pier with guard Omar Krayem, a good fit for the Pido Jarencio mentored squad despite having other outstanding guards in Terrence Romeo, rookie Stanley Pringle and shooter Ronjay Buenafe.

The 6-foot-2 Palestine guard is averaging 13.3 points and 2.6 assists while shooting a combined 7-of-18 from three-point territory in his first three games.

Krayem had 20 points in a 91-89 victory of Globalport over defending champion Star Hotshots last Tuesday that propelled Batang Pier atop the standings with a 3-0 win-loss card.

“The putting up of Asian imports not only helps each PBA team cover their weak positions, but it also opens up the PBA to a different set of fans, even if they are not Filipinos,” said Romero.

He added: “It opens the PBA to worldwide fans. It’s like opening the PBA to the international world. Suddenly the PBA teams would have bigger audience such as Palestinian, Iranian, Japanese, Mongolian, etc.”

Aside from Krayem, other teams with Asian reinforcements are Talk ’N Text with Jordanian Sam Daghles, Meralco with Japanese Seiya Ando from Japan, Mongolia’s Sanchir Tungalag for Ginebra, NLEX’s Michael Madanly from Syria, Taiwan’s Jet Chang from Kia.