NLEX has activated Tony Mitchell, their first-choice import, for its match against NorthPort this Saturday, the team’s social media accounts confirmed on Friday.
The Road Warriors are parting ways with Curtis Washington, who had been tapped as replacement when Mitchell failed to make it for their opener in the Commissioner's Cup. The team said the Mitchell missed several flights booked by the team, but the American import later booked his own flight.
“(Mitchell) was our original choice anyway. Curtis came in as a replacement,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “When Tony became available, and he was already in the country, we decided to pursue our original plan.”
Guiao said Mitchell, who was fresh from a title victory in the Taiwan Super Basketball League, has already practiced with the team.
“We feel he’s a better fit. He’s played here in the Philippines before. He knows the style and knows the people so the adjustment period is very short.”
“After one practice we can see that he’s the right fit for our system. We can also see that even the aura of the team is different with him around. In Tagalog, may angas ito. Mayroon siyang leadership qualities that can spark the team,” Guiao added.
Mitchell said he wants to make up for the team after NLEX was forced to get a replacement import for him.
“I didn’t know if they would give me a shot, but it was a sense of wanting to prove myself and hoping I could make up for lost time. That was irresponsible of me, so I just want to make it up to the team and the coaches,” Mitchell said.
Guiao thanked Washington for stepping in. He had 18 points and 16 rebounds in a loss to TNT, 102-91.
“We’d like to thank Curtis for his services. In a short span of time that he’s been with us, we really could not expect more than what we saw in the first game. To be fair to him, it was not enough time for him to reach his maximum potential. But we have to make decisions based on what we feel is required for the team.”
“We don’t have the luxury of time. So the fact that it’s Curtis’ first time to play in the Philippines is a disadvantage, and it’s an advantage that Tony has,” Guiao said.