TWO Fil-foreign players with dreams of making it big in the pro ranks are now sharpening their skills and getting familiar with the Filipino brand of basketball in the ongoing 5th DeLeague in Marikina City.
Taylor Statham and James White have both been playing impressively for DeLeague title contender FEU-NRMF, motivated as they are to prove themselves ahead of the PBA D-League.
“Maayos ang shooting nyan. Malaki tapos dumidribol saka may mata sa mga open na kakampi, pwede sa PBA 'yan,” said FEU-NRMF team captain Leo Avenido of Statham, a 6-6 guard out of Cal-State San Bernardino.
Even DeLeague commissioner Sonny Manucat, who played for the Nueva Ecija Patriots in the now defunct MBA, also vouched for the skills set of Statham.
“For a player his size, maayos yung Statham tapos may itsura pa kaya madalas, nakaka-draw ng crowd dito sa mga games namin,” said Manucat.
Despite invitations to play in Chile and France, Statham has opted to try his luck in his motherland. He has already enrolled at Centro Escolar University, making him eligible to play for the school’s partner team, Café France, in the D-League alongside another Fil-Am in Jawhar Purdy.
White, on the other hand, has been having consistent games for FEU-NRMF, topscoring for the team in its last two victories versus Our Lady of Fatima, where he made 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and the Mindanao Aguilas.
“I just want to play basketball and be appreciated by the fans. I came here to follow my dream and hopefully I can reach that (play in the PBA). But my focus right now is the D-League,” where he is among the aspirants in annual draft set on December 1 at the PBA Café in Ortigas.
“There will be some like 200 players, applicants, I just hope that one team will notice. I promise, I won’t have any problem adjusting to them,” said the Philippine-born Fil-American.
The 25-year old former Guam High School standout said he can play the one and two positions, but he is more focused on his being the key defender of his team.
“I can possibly give hardcore defense, that’s my main contribution to the team, defense first but I can score when needed,” said White.
See video highlights of the two players:
Aside from Statham and White, other marquee names joining the PBA D-League draft are Ateneo's Von Pessumal, Sam Perkins (La Salle) and former ABL star Avery Scharer (Malaysia Dragons).
The PBA Dleague opens its sixth season in January 2016 with seven teams in Café France, Tanduay Light, Ama University, Keramix/Racal, Wangs Basketball, UP-QRS/Jam Liner and newcomer Mindanao Aguilas.