Phoenix taps Jameel McKay in lieu of Puerto Rico-bound Eugene Phelps
MANILA, Philippines – The Phoenix Fuel Masters brought in new import Jameel McKay to replace the Puerto Rico-bound Eugene Phelps, head coach Ariel Vanguardia told Rappler via text message on Monday, March 20.
The 24-year-old McKay arrived 11 am on Monday and already practiced with the team in the afternoon. He will debut on Wednesday, March 22, when the Fuel Masters go for back-to-back wins against the Star Hotshots in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
The American McKay out of Iowa State, who went undrafted in the NBA last year, is fresh off of a championship with the Perth Wildcats of the National Basketball League in Australia just two weeks ago.
McKay surely has big shoes to fill with the departure of Phelps, who reset his previous 52-point career-high from 8 months ago with a 53-point performance during his lone game for Phoenix – a double overtime victory on Saturday, March 18, against Blackwater.
It turned out Phelps only played as a favor to the Fuel Masters, who needed someone to fill in for a couple of games. Phelps came from a tournament in Taiwan but left for Los Angeles on Sunday, March 19.
He is set to play in Puerto Rico starting on the 29th.
"I already signed but Coach Ariel hit me up right after Taiwan and asked me if I could come in for like a game or two. That's my guy so I told him I got no problem," Phelps said.
"I like the country, honestly if it was like somewhere else, I would've probably told them no. But I love it here, it's like my second home. I like the environment, the people, the weather, everything besides the traffic. Everything is perfect, I love my teammates, my coaches, and the fans of course. It was worth it."
Phelps said he hopes he could come back for Phoenix in the third conference "if everything goes to plan."
"We thank Eugene for joining us right after playing in Taiwan despite the short notice," Vanguardia said on Monday.
Phelps exploded for 53 points in 55 minutes on top of 21 rebounds in Saturday's game. – Rappler.com