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PBA: San Mig changes import; Kings, Elite swap players

By Jerome Lagunzad

Powerhouse San Miguel Beer is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to complete a coveted Grand Slam feat in the pro league’s 42d season.

But its more popular sister team, Barangay Ginebra, is looking at the present with an eye out for the future.

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The Beermen are set to bring in American Terik Bridgeman in lieu of bull-strong import Wendell McKines who has been relegated to the team’s injured/reserved list yesterday, just four days after SMB suffered a 97-101 loss—its second overall in the PBA Governors Cup—against vastly-improving NLEX.

The former William Paterson University standout was officially measured at the pro league office yesterday and should be ready to go on Saturday when SMB, currently at seventh spot with a 3-2 mark, tries to get its title campaign back on track against free-falling Alaska, still winless after six matches, in an out-of-town showdown at Angeles City, Pampanga.

However, the 6-foot-4 Bridgeman has a tough work cut out for him since he will try to duplicate—or even surpass—what can be considered as impressive numbers from the hefty McKines who is good for 26.2 points on 51 percent shooting clip on top of 14.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

On the other hand, the Gin Kings tinkered their local unit when they sent high-flying wingman Chris Ellis and bruising big man Dave Marcelo to the Blackwater Elite in exchange for promising forward Art Dela Cruz and underrated Raymond Aguilar.

While Blackwater, currently occupying the eighth – and final playoff – spot with a 3-4 record, could get quick boost from Ellis and Marcelo, Ginebra has no other choice but to wait for the return of the lefty Dela Cruz, who’s still recovering from a raptured Achilles tendon he sustained during Gilas Pilipinas’ training camp last March.

The move came in stunning fashion since Ginebra, the reigning tournament champion, has won its last five matches and earned a share of the leadership with Meralco with identical 5-1 slates, underscoring its readiness to foil SMB’s grand title dreams.

“Incredible work ethic, developed into a great teammate, unselfish and our defensive stopper,” was how Gin Kings coach Tim Cone described the 6-foot-4 Ellis, the team’s sixth overall pick in the 2012 rookie draft.

For the undersized Marcelo, who primarily served as a backup to Gin Kings’ prized frontline of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, Cone tweeted: “(He) gave us so much during our championship run (last year), the most loved guy on the team, come to work with a smile. He will be missed.”