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PBA: Hotshots tap new import

By Jerome Lagunzad

New Star import Malcolm Hill has already attended a pair of training sessions with the Hotshots and first-year mentor Chito Victolero likes what he’s been seeing so far.

Robin Scholz/The News Gazette Illinois' guard Malcolm Hill (21) and Nebraska's guard Ray Gallegos (15) during their NCAA men's basketball game at the State Farm Center on the UI campus in Champaign on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.

Robin Scholz/The News Gazette
Illinois’ guard Malcolm Hill (21) and Nebraska’s guard Ray Gallegos (15) during their NCAA men’s basketball game at the State Farm Center on the UI campus in Champaign on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.

“He’s a team player. Tsaka ‘yung basketball IQ niya, mataas. ‘Yun ang una kong nagustuhan sa kanya,” he said of the former University of Illinois standout whom Star brought in to take over the reins from first-choice reinforcement Cinmeon Bowers in the PBA Governors Cup.

Victolero added the 6-foot-4 Hill, arguably the youngest reinforcement in the 12-team field at 21 years old, could give the Hotshots another dimension since “he’s more of a wing player who can also play multiple positions.

“Gusto namin na he can play big, he can play small and even can play the point para magkaroon kami ng maraming options. At the same time, batang-bata pa rin siya kaya I’m expecting him to play more aggressive. Mataas pa ‘yung potential niya na gumaling.”

Star made an auspicious debut behind a solid 103-86 victory over Blackwater last Sunday, but it hardly deterred the team management from giving Bowers the pink slip despite his 15-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance.

“We expected him na malaki siya,” said Victolero of the former Auburn stalwart, who has shed at least 40 pounds from his original weight of 280 when he came over in the country.

“Gusto kasi namin ‘yung lapad niya when he was still playing in college. Kaso lumiit na siya. Then ‘yung conditioning niya, hindi pa ganun kaganda.”

The opposite should be expected from Hill, who is coming off an NBA Summer League stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder and another training camp, shared Victolero.

Whether Hill is as good as advertised will be known on Friday when Star guns for a second straight win against dangerous Alaska and lefty import LeDontae Henton at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.