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PBA: Phoenix rising

LeBron Miami teammate tapped

In the hopes of improving its performance from its maiden campaign in the PBA, newcomer Phoenix Fuel is eyeing former NBA player DeAndre Liggins as import in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup set July 15.

Newly-named Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said yesterday that they are finalizing a deal to bring in the 6-foot-5 Liggins, who played for three teams in three seasons in the NBA from 2011 to 2014.

“He’s our first option,” said Vanguardia, who has been appointed as mentor of the franchise replacing Koy Banal. “We’re finalizing everything with him, we’ll know by tomorrow if it’s him or we’ll get someone else.”

A product of Kentucky under coach John Calipari, Liggins had his best year as a junior with the Wildcats when he averaged 8.6 points, four rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

After three years in Kentucky, Liggins joined the 2011 NBA Rookie Draft where the Orlando Magic selected him in the second round (53rd overall). Liggins averaged 1.9 points as a rookie.

The native of Chicago also had stints as teammate of Kevin Durant with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012-13 and had the privilege to play with LeBron James when he signed a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat in 2014.

Liggins recently played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA D-League, playing a pivotal role in the team’s title campaign against the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He was named to the All-NBA D-League second team.

According to Vanguardia, Phoenix has been practicing twice a day the last week with ‘dribble-drive’ developer Vance Walberg, formerly with Pepperdine University, who is the Fuel Masters’ consultant.

Vanguardia said the team is in the process of building character.

“Of course, medyo nangangapa pa lahat kasi very new ang system, but very promising. We’re just trying to build first the attitude of the players,” he said.