FIL-ITALIAN point guard Chris Banchero intends to make his PBA D-League stint much more than a mere stopover before a planned jump to the PBA, hoping to hone his skills and get even better defensively while doing everything to help Foundation Cup champion Blackwater.
The 6-foot-1 playmaker, who is coming off a successful ABL championship stint with the San Miguel Beermen, is currently in Bacolod City for the Elite’s campus tour.
“It’s my first time here in Bacolod. The fans are great,” Banchero told Spin.ph in a telephone interview after playing the Elite’s game against the West Negros University Mustangs at the WNU gym.
The stint with Blackwater could be seen as a mere stepping stone to his dream of bringing his basketball skills to the PBA.
But being a Fil-foreign player, Banchero said he’s willing to abide by PBA rules.
The PBA requires Fil-foreign players still below 25 years old to put their Filipino citizenship documents in order and play at least two conferences in the D-League before becoming eligible for the PBA Draft.
“For now, I think I still have a lot of things I can improve on like playing defense and improving on my outside shot. I want to get better and go over with my trainers,” he said.
The cat-quick Banchero said there’s a big difference playing with Eric Menk, Asi Taulava and Paolo Hubalde at San Miguel, who all had lengthy PBA experiences before playing major roles in the Beermen’s three-game Finals sweep of deposed ABL champion Indonesia Warriors.
Now, Banchero said teaming up with younger players at Blackwater may just mean slight adjustment, though he’s ready to bang bodies in the developmental league.
“Of course, that’s (physicality) part of the job. I find the D-League as scrappy since players try hard and give their all every game,” noted the 24-year-old product of Seattle Pacific University, a US NCAA Division II school.
And while the D-League would more likely overlap with the ABL’s 2014 season, which opens in January next year, he still intends to play for the Beermen, too, based on the arrangement Blackwater has with San Miguel.
“I believe I’ll be able to play in the ABL. But for now, Blackwater is my main focus because I’m here to win,” he added.