BARANGAY Ginebra is set to bring in former PBA Best Import awardee Gabe Freeman as a replacement for Josh Powell in a bid to salvage its campaign in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
The 6-foot-6 Freeman, according to sources, will arrive from the US on Wednesday morning to take the place of the highly touted Powell, who bid the team goodbye on Sunday after getting an offer to join the Houston Rockets' roster in time for the NBA playoffs.
That should give Freeman enough time to process his papers and acclimatize ahead of his debut on Sunday against Rain or Shine in a game which will determine the Gin Kings' pairing in the quarterfinal playoffs.
On Sunday, Ginebra governor Robert Non said management is looking to bring in either Andre Emmett or Charles Thomas, but both apparently are not available to come in on short notice.
Insiders said Ginebra also considered bringing back Dior Lowhorn, the team's import in last year's Governors Cup, but the wide-bodied import couldn't break loose from his contract in Japan with ballclub Hamamatsu Phoenix.
A ticket has already been forwarded to Freeman in the US, sources said.
Non had cited the urgency to bring in an import to replace Powell as soon as possible since government offices will be closed during the Holy Week break, making it hard to secure the needed permits and licenses.
Freeman, 28, won two Best Import awards while playing for San Miguel Beer in 2009 and 2010. He also had a stint with the Philippine Patriots in the Asean Basketball League and had a short stint last year in the same league, this time with the San Miguel Beermen.
Freeman's name was first floated around when Ginebra was searching for a replacement for Leon Rodgers. However, word got around then that the import was out of shape.
Even if Freeman arrives on schedule on Wednesday morning, Ginebra will have to race against time to secure his license since Games and Amusement Board officials have already sent out a memo informing the public that will only be open for half a day on Wednesday.
“Yun ang worry namin. Paano kung biglang mag half day ang mga opisina sa Miyerkules? Hindi makakalaro ang import sa Linggo. Multa yun. Saka kailangan naming manalo para sa seeding,” said a source.