After failing to land Gadzuric, Barako Bull coach Banal now looking at 7-foot-1 NBA veteran
Barako Bull coach Koy Banal says he wants to make the most of the 'unlimited height' concession given the team in its choice of import for the PBA Commissioner's Cup. Jerome Ascano

AFTER failing to land prospects Dan Gadzuric and Brian Cook, Barako Bull coach Koy Banal is now choosing between former Toronto Raptor reserve center Solomon Alabi and Euro league journeyman DeVon Hardin for the Energy's import in the coming PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Alabi, who hails from Kaduna, Nigeria, was listed at 7-foot-1 in the NBA where he was drafted 50th overall by the Dallas Mavericks.

The 26-year-old played 14 games for the Raptors during the 2011-12 NBA season, averaging 2.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 8.7 minutes. He registered NBA career-high numbers of 11 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks during the Raptors’ final game of the regular season.

“Kailangan ko kasi i-maximize yung unlimited height para sa team, otherwise, baka iyan pa ikasama namin kung kukuha kami ng maliit,” said Banal, two days before the team resumes practice on Monday at the Green Meadows gym in Libis, Quezon City.

Banal feels Alabi could be a solid fit for an Energy side which placed ninth in the PBA Philippine Cup this season.

Under the Commissioner’s Cup format, the four last-placed teams in the Philippine Cup won’t have any height restrictions on their imports. The Top 8 teams, on the other hand, can't recruit imports taller than 6-9.

With the Nigerian’s size and long wingspan, Banal believes the former Florida State University standout can provide the defensive spunk the team sorely lacked in the all-Filipino conference.

“We need an energy guy sa depensa kaya si Alabi or so Hardin na ang pinagpipilian namin. Short blocker din naman si Alabi at may tira sa labas for his size,” said Banal.

On the other hand, Hardin, 28, was selected 50th overall by the Seattle Supersonics during the 2008 NBA Draft. But the 6-foot-11 former standout from the University of California in Berkeley, spent much of his time playing overseas, bouncing from Greece, China, Israel, Turkey, Belarus, Argentina, Venezuela and Qatar.

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Banal feels Hardin can bring solid rebounding and inside scoring for the Energy.

“Tingin ko mabilis siya for his height saka makakapag-provide din ng depensa sa team saka rebound kaya nga by next week, we need to make a decision already,” said the rookie Barako Bull coach.

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