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PBA: Phoenix taps Nigerian import

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New team Phoenix Petroleum has tabbed as reinforcement Nigerian journeyman Kelly Adeleke for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup set to start February 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The confirmation came from no less than Phoenix coach Koy Banal yesterday as Adeleke – listed at 6-9 – agreed to terms to play for the new squad in Asia’s first professional league.

Adeleke, who played the forward and center positions, was born in Lagos but studied in Paul Roberson high School in Brooklyn, New York and played for the Hofstra University and University of Hartford.

Adeleke went undrafted during the 2006 NBA Rookie Draft, but has played in different pro teams abroad like Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Spain, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

“He’s a rebounder and defender, which is want we want because that’s what the team needs. He’ll help us in that department,” said Banal, who expects Adeleke to arrive this Saturday.

Phoenix will debut on Feb. 17 against NLEX at the Big Dome.

In his final season at Hartford, Adeleke averaged 20.7 points, 13.1 rebounds and 1.7 shot blocks.

Phoenix purchased the franchise of Barako Bull that was approved by the PBA Board of Governors two weeks ago. The new management has retained so far the coaching staff and the roster.

In last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, Barako Bull also had a Nigerian import in Solomon Alabi and the team made the quarterfinal round but lost against eventual champion Talk ’N Text in the knockout stage.