Underfire Mighty Sports defends decision to form import-heavy roster for Jones Cup
“When we were invited by the Jones Cup organizers after our Gilas and the cadets were not available, they had specific instructions to make sure the team that we are going to assemble is a competitive one,” says Mighty coach Bo Perasol.

TAIPEI – The non-availability of top local players prompted Mighty Sports to tap the services of seven imports to reinforce the team in its 38th William Jones Cup campaign, head coach Bo Perasol said.

Perasol said top local players which Mighty targeted are tied up and playing either in the PBA, D-League, or other tournaments, making it impossible to tap their services and whip them into one cohesive unit in two weeks’ time.

He said the only recourse left for the franchise was to bring in ex-PBA imports, a move which Perasol stressed, doesn’t break any rule of the tournament.

In all, the team brought seven imports led by former NBA player Al Thornton.

“We break no rule in bringing in seven imports,” said Perasol after PH-Mighty team rallied past host Chinese-Taipei-A, 89-81, in a win that came under criticism from Taiwanese media.

“When we were invited by the Jones Cup organizers after our Gilas and the cadets were not available, they had specific instructions to make sure the team that we are going to assemble is a competitive one,” added the Philippine coach.

Other than Thornton, other imports in the Mighty Sports lineup include Vernon Macklin, Hamady N’ Diaye, Mike Singletary, Zach Graham, Dewarick Spencer, and Troy Gillenwater.

Jerick Teng and Sunday Salvacion are among the prominent locals who suited up for the team.

“It was difficult to sign up local players as most of them are playing in the PBA or the D-League and have existing contracts. The most logical recourse, with the very limited time of about two weeks, would be to sign up ex-PBA imports.” 

Team manager Jean Alabanza said Mighty Sports made use of the club’s resources to tap the services of former imports so as not to embarrass the country, a former winner of the tournament.

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“It would be embarrassing to the club, more so to our country if we bring so-so players and lose by a mile,” said Alabanza.

Spencer, who exploded for 27 points highlighted by an impressive 5-of-8 shooting from three-point zone, said he and Gillenwater, a fellow Korean Basketball League (KBL) star, accepted the invitation to play for Mighty Sports knowing how passionate Filipinos are when it comes to basketball.

“We are all focused to win for Mighty Sports and the Philippines,” added the sweet-shooting guard who also had four rebounds, three steals and two assists in almost 30 minutes of action.

Mighty Sports will play Korea in its next game.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos