By JEROME LAGUNZAD
Perennial title contender TNT is making the most of its nearly three-week respite in the 2017 PBA Governors Cup, with the KaTropa intent on covering all the bases.
And that includes the possibility of replacing do-it-all import Michael Craig with American compatriot Glen Rice Jr., the proud son of former three-time NBA All-Star Glen who has already joined the team’s recent training sessions.
“At this point, we’re keeping our options open,” said TNT’s first-year coach Nash Racela in a phone interview yesterday, keeping the cards close to his chest ahead of their August 20 showdown with Rain or Shine at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Wala pa naman kaming (final) decision kung maglalaro siya or hindi. All factors will be put into consideration. At least we still have a few days to work on it.”
Currently running at the upper half of the 12-team field with a 2-1 mark alongside Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beer from fifth to sixth spots, TNT could be searching for the missing piece that could propel them to the top following the KaTropa’s finals stint in the Commissioner’s Cup and a semifinals finish in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
And that could be the the 6-foot-4 Rice Jr., 26, the 2014 NBA Summer League MVP winner who suited up for the Washington Wizards for two seasons and saw action for at least three teams in the NBA Developmental League.
“He’s a skillful and smart player,” said Racela of the former Georgia Tech standout who arrived in the country last Wednesday morning.
Rice Jr., however, is expected to have his hands full in trying to gain the nod over Craig, the smallest import in the tourney so far at 6-foot-3 but is making up for it with solid numbers of 21.6 points anchored on 48.3 percent shooting clip on top of 16.7 boards, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks against seven errors per game.
Craig dished out his best performance yet in TNT’s thrilling 107-106 victory over Alaska last August 4, coming up with his third double-double performance of 28 points and 19 rebounds on top of four assists.