MIGHTY Sports has set its sights on high-caliber imports like Orlando Johnson as well as top amateurs Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer and Jeron Teng as it sets out to form a formidable lineup for the 2016 Jones Cup in Taipei.
Mighty Sports team manager Jean Alabanza bared that the team is leaving no stone unturned in its desire to put together the best team possible for the campaign in the Jones Cup, which the Philippines last won in 2012 with a Gilas Pilipinas team led by tournament MVP LA Tenorio.
“Ang hirap kasi bumuo ng malakas na roster kasi karamihan sa magagaling na playes natin, may mga commitments sa PBA, sa D-League, sa (Gilas) cadets and NCAA and UAAP,” said Alabanza.
“So what we did, para naman hindi mapurnada yung plano namin to form a highly competitive team, we started to look outside, dun nga kami nag-decide na magpasok ng magagaling na imports,” he added.
Alabanza bared that negotiations with former Ginebra import Johnson and ex-Kia center Hamady N’Diaye are now in their final phase, while efforts to sign for former PBA reinforcements Rob Dozier (Alaska), Zach Graham (Air 21) and Michael Singletary (Barako Bull) are also underway.
“Kinakausap na namin ang mga 'yan, we’re so close to signing them so hopefully, mapapirma na namin. Kasi we’re doing this all for the glory of our country. Gusto talaga naming ibalik sa Pilipinas ang korona ng Jones Cup,” he said.
“Pero most likely, they will sign na the contracts. N’Diaye might stay na in the country after his stint with Senegal in the Fiba Olympic Qualifier, tapos yung iba they will plane in as soon as possible,” said Alabanza, who is now rushing the contract signing as the June 30 deadline for submission of lineup for the Jones Cup nears.
According to Alabanza, the team owned by Dr. John Sy is also looking to bring onboard top amateurs led by Ravena, Ferrer, Teng and former PBA streak shooter Mark Macapagal to join retired Rain or Shine guard TY Tang, former Star Hotshots draftee Gab Banal and and Edric Ferrer.
Ravena and Ferrer already saw action for Mighty Sports in the last PCBL, where Ravena was named tournament MVP.
“Si Kevin kasi kinakausap na namin, though he knows baka kasali siya sa cadets and wala naman siyang team, baka pwedeng magamit. Same way kay Kiefer, we will need them kasi kailangang malakas din ang local natin,” he said.
“Para naman sa bansa itong ginagawa namin, all for pride and honor. So sana, makatulong namin ang iba pang basketball stakeholders sa bansa,” Alabanza added.
Mighty Sports, which has dominated the Republic Cup in Bulacan and finished second in the maiden conference of the PCBL, has also set its sights on ABL stars Jason Brickman and Matthew Wright, both Fil-foreign players.
“Kinakausap na namin 'yung dalawa and we are optimistic they will agree to play for the country in the Jones Cup,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alabanza also bared that former NBA star Metta World Peace nearly agreed to play for the Philippines in the coming Jones Cup, but his other commitments abroad came in the way.
“Sayang nga kasi natutuwa kami sa interest ni Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) to play for us in the Jones Cup,” he said.
The mission, he said, is clear: Bring the Jones Cup title back to Manila.
“Yun ang gusto namin. We want to rule the Jones Cup and start showing to every country in Asia that we are one of the toughest sides in basketball in the region,” said Alabanza.