PBA Governors' Cup

Why Ethan Rusbatch? Aldin Ayo says New Zealander fits what Converge looks for in import

Delfin Dioquino
Why Ethan Rusbatch? Aldin Ayo says New Zealander fits what Converge looks for in import

BLOWOUT. Ethan Rusbatch and Converge are off to a rousing start after a 30-point rout of NorthPort.

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While the rest of the PBA teams bring in Americans as reinforcements for the Governors' Cup, Converge goes on a different route by tapping the services of New Zealand standout Ethan Rusbatch

MANILA, Philippines – Ethan Rusbatch proved to be a surprise choice when Converge named him as its import for the PBA Governors’ Cup.

While the rest of the field all brought in Americans as reinforcements for the season-ending conference, the FiberXers went a different route by tapping the services of the New Zealand forward.

But Converge head coach Aldin Ayo said Rusbatch is just what the team needs, as shown by his effectiveness in a conference-opening 122-92 annihilation of NorthPort on Sunday, January 22.

Although his numbers of 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists were not eye-popping in terms of import standards, Rusbatch served as the FiberXers’ glue guy, with six local players scoring in double figures in the blowout win.

“He fits what we look for in an import – someone who will complement the locals,” said Ayo in a mix of Filipino and English.

“We do not want an import who will score 50, 60 points for us because we’re going to be predictable. We want the ball to move. We have good local players and we want our locals to perform.”

Ayo bared that Converge initially wanted to sign Tom Vodanovich – another New Zealander – but he still has commitments with the New Zealand Breakers, who are bound for the playoffs in the National Basketball League in Australia.

Rusbatch and Vodanovich both play for Tall Blacks, the national basketball team of New Zealand.

Ayo said the FiberXers opted for New Zealanders not just because they are good players but also because they have a reputation of providing a pleasing locker-room presence.

“We want imports who are willing to play within the system and execute. These New Zealanders, they are known for that, and these players are fundamentally sound, and well, high in character.”

Just to make sure, Ayo admitted consulting former Gilas Pilipinas coach Nenad Vucinic, who called the shots for the Tall Blacks for eight years, about Rusbatch and heard only good things.

“It is very contagious during the practices, how [Ethan] works, how he pushes his teammates. He has a very positive aura in our team,” Ayo said. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.