IT seems Star, particularly Marc Pingris, wants to send an early message to former import Denzel Bowles through the Hotshots’ new PBA Commissioner’s Cup reinforcement in Tony Mitchell.
Bowles had four tours of duty with the Hotshots, but the relationship has been strained after the import aired his thoughts on social media about not wanting to play for his longtime team anymore as he criticized former Star coach Jason Webb.
Emotions are expected to be high when the Hotshots and their former import meet for the first time on Thursday when Star takes on TNT Katropa, Bowles’ new team, in a tune-up game at Ronac Center.
And Pingris is using the exhibition as an early gauge for Mitchell, going as far as vowing to reward their new import some cash for every dunk he completes against Bowles.
“Dun natin makikita kung talagang fit siya sa team namin, tapos icha-challenge ko yan: bibigyan ko ng $100 bawat isang dunk niya kay Denzel,” Pingris said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Monday.
“Promise yun,” he added with a smile.
So far, Pingris feels the 6-foot-8 Mitchell, a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, fits coach Chito Victolero’s defense-oriented system.
“Oo naman. Yan yung mga kailangan namin: yung dumedepensa, kumukuha ng rebound,” the three-time Defensive Player of the Year said. “Umiiskor rin, may shooting sa labas kahit papaano.”
“Alam ko mas mahirap ngayong conference kasi labanan din ng mga import ngayon eh,” he added. “Kung magaling import mo, plus na yun.”
Mitchell, who played one season for Detroit in the NBA before taking his act to the NBA D-League and European leagues, the last in Israel, is eager to live up to expectations for a Hotshots side that fell short of a finals berth in the Philippine Cup.
“This team has a lot of expectations considering how they lost in the semifinals last conference, so I don’t think anything comes short with this team except trying to win a championship, and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Mitchell, who turns 25 next month.