Nigeria national coach Will Voigt sees something special in Scottie Thompson
“He’s going to be a good player, just by the way he carries himself and the confidence he has,” Nigeria national coach Will Voigt says of Ginebra sophomore Scottie Thompson. Jerome Ascano

SCOTTIE Thompson and Barangay Ginebra may have fallen short in their bid for back-to-back PBA championships, but at least the sophomore sensation caught the attention of an Olympian and Chinese Basketball Association coach.

Nigeria national team coach Will Voigt believes Thompson has a bright future ahead of him if his performance in the title series against champion San Miguel Beer was any indication.

“Individually, I like Thompson,” Voigt, who was recently in town to hold an offseason training camp for Phoenix and managed to watch a few finals games. “You can tell that he’s got a confidence about him, and usually that’s a sign that they’re going to develop to being good.”

“He’s going to be a good player, just by the way he carries himself and the confidence he has,”  the 40-year-old American coach, who led Nigeria to an African Championships conquest that earned the national team a berth in last year’s Rio Olympics, added. “I think he’s probably the one that stands out to me.”

[See Ginebra bound to become an even better team after finals heartbreak, says Mercado]

Asked about his impression on the players on the other side of the fence, Voigt wasn’t surprised that June Mar Fajardo has dominated the paint the way the 6-foot-10 MVP had.

“He obviously has size, just because he’s bigger than everybody else,” Voigt, who is the concurrent consultant/assistant coach for the Shanxi Dragons in the CBA.

Asked if any PBA player he has seen is capable of playing in the CBA, Voigt declined to comment directly, instead underlining how different the playing style in the Chinese league is compared to its Philippine counterpart.

“It’d be a big adjustment,” Voigt said. “The style of play in the CBA is a lot different. It’s just a lot bigger. Teams don’t play as fast there, so that size becomes a bigger issue, and there is size across the board, so a shooting guard in the CBA is like a four or five here.


“Just adjusting to that, like the physicality of that league, I think would probably be the biggest thing,” he added.

Voigt was in the country for a week after Vanguardia asked him to work on the defense of an offensive-oriented Fuel Masters.

“We’ve been known to be an offensive-minded team, so with him, we’d like to polish our defense a bit more,” Vanguardia, whose team reached the quarterfinals, although suffered a sweep at the hands of Star, last month. “I know we improved a lot in the second half of the last conference, but with him, we’re hoping we could be in the Top Three.”

RJ Jazul, the Fuel Masters’ most prized offseason recruit, attested to how big of an influence Voigt was in his short yet fruitful stay.

“Yung mga insigt niya, syempre Olympian coach siya, so 'yun pa lang, iba na yung nabi-bring niya sa table,” the former Alaska gunner said. “Kahit na hindi siya magsalita, yung presence lang niya, ibang morale booster na sa amin eh.”

“Maganda kasi yung mga players, nagba-buy in sa defensive principles niya,” he added. “Tsaka swerte kami na nadyan siya. Sa ganitong panahon, siya lang yung Olympian coach na nandito sa Pilipinas at kami pa yung natutukan niya. Sana maging second nature sa amin yung mga tinuro niya at mag-improve kami.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos