MANILA, Philippines – A source affiliated with the Philippine national basketball team tells Rappler that San Miguel Beerman and two-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo is being eyed by a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) team as one of its Asian imports.
The 5 worst teams in the CBA’s previous campaign are allowed to field an Asian import aside from two non-Asian players.
SMB head coach Leo Austria denied any knowledge of the rumor when reached for comment. “This is the first time I am hearing this,” said Austria. “If it’s true then it is nice to hear that our Asian neighbors and especially the CBA think highly of Filipino players. But if it comes to that, we will have to discuss a lot of things.”
If true, then Fajardo will be the second active PBA player to gain interest from a Chinese basketball club.
Fajardo is currently with Greece training with the national team as part of its preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month in Manila.
During the 2011 PBA season, then Talk ’N Text (TNT) point guard Jim Alapag was approached by scouts from Qingdao Double Star Eagles, the same club that former NBA star Tracy McGrady would play for one year later before returning to the US to suit up for the San Antonio Spurs for the 2013 playoffs.
TNT was in the midst of pursuing a Grand Slam (they lost to Petron in a 7-game finals series) when the offer was made. “I was flattered,” recalled Alapag of the offer.
“I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to play with Gilas (as then head coach Rajko Toroman’s squad was aiming for qualification to the 2012 London Olympics) along with Kelly [Williams], Ranidel [De Ocampo], and Asi [Taulava]. I was also in the middle of renegotiating a contract with Talk ’N Text.”
Alapag said that he gave the offer some thought. “Absolutely! I spoke to team management and the coaching staff at that time and they were supportive. They too were excited for the opportunity. At the end of the day,
it was nice to be recognized but we had something special going on with Talk ’N Text at that time (the nucleus of that team went on to win 3 more PBA championships) and there was the national team aspect that I didn’t want to let go. But it would have been a great opportunity to play in a league like the CBA.” – Rappler.com
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