BARANGAY Ginebra is in a race against time to find an import to take the place of Leon Rodgers and, hopefully, turn around the Kings' fortunes in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
A top team official said the coaching staff is looking for a way to bring in a replacement before the end of the week in the hope of giving him ample time to blend with the rest of the Kings in time for Ginebra's next game.
The league’s most popular ballclub won’t be back in action until Wednesday when it takes on Meralco in a crucial encounter at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The official said ideally, management should strike a deal with a new import by Friday so he can plane in by the weekend, giving him three days to work out with the team before the Meralco game.
“Kung makakuha sana at naghahanap sila coach ngayon, aabot iyun (import replacement). Kasi, kung aalis bukas, darating ng Saturday iyun,” said the same source.
“Kaya under consideration talaga na may iba (import replacement). Pero as of now wala pa.”
The Kings slipped down the standings on Wednesday night after absorbing a 97-95 heartbreaker against Air21 - their fourth loss in six outings for the team which fell to a share of eight to ninth places with Barako Bull.
Rodgers was surprisingly benched for almost the entire fourth quarter as the Kings’ second unit sparked the team’s fightback from as much as a 14-point deficit.
But the controversial import was recalled in the final 4.8 seconds and despite being cold, was tasked to take Ginebra’s final shot which he missed as Air21 counterpart Wesley Witherspoon played honest defense against him.
The same Ginebra source said the team tried to bring in Los Angeles D-Fenders veteran James Southerland to replace Rodgers. But the D-League veteran, listed at 6-8 out of Syracuse, backed out at the last-minute after opting to wait for a call-up in the NBA.
“Meron na sanang kapalit kaya lang last-minute nag-backout kasi naghihintay ng call-up sa NBA,” said the same source.
The 23-year-old Southerland averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds for the D-Fenders.
He had a one-game stint with the Charlotte Bobcats late last year before being waived.
Another source said Ginebra had also set its sights on former Barako Bull prospect Devon Chism, who eventually was signed by Rain or Shine as a replacement for Alex McLean.
Another target, former Los Angeles Laker Josh Powell, has priced himself out of the market, a source said.