IT LOOKS like Rain or Shine is set follow NLEX’s suit and likewise replace its import.
The Road Warriors have brought in known scorer and legitimate NBA veteran Manny Harris to take the place of Olu Ashaolu.
Harris, who has seen action with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, flew in last Saturday and was officially measured at 6-foot-3 and 3/4 yesterday, well under the 6-5 height limit for imports in the PBA Governors Cup.
The reed-thin former Michigan standout, who last saw action in Turkey, is set to make his league debut against Columbian tomorrow.
Ashaolu is one of the key factors to NLEX’s 4-1 start to the Governors Cup but has been deemed “flat” of late by management and the coaching staff, according to a team insider.
“Tingin ng mga nasa itaas hindi kayang dalhin ni Ashaolu sa immediate target na top four (finish in the eliminations) ang team kaya nag-decision to bring in si Harris habang maaga pa,” the source told Malaya-Business Insight.
Rain or Shine has yet to formally make its decision regarding Kayel Locke, although it is obvious coach Caloy Garcia is inclined towards tapping a replacement.
“If we’re going to make a change, it should be now,” Garcia said after the Elasto Painters lost 71-78 to previously winless Alaska last Sunday.
The loss was Rain or Shine’s fourth straight and fifth in six games overall that left the team in the bottom of the 12-team field.
Despite the dire situation, Garcia remains hopeful his team would still gain inclusion among the top eight advancing to the quarterfinals, a possibility that would be realized if it sweeps its last five games.
“Hindi pa naman kami out talaga. We still have a chance and I know management is all-out in its support of the team,” Garcia said, adding that includes giving the green light to tap a new import if it is deemed the best move to turn things around.
That should not augur well for Locke.
Locke, a replacement for original import Joel Wright, tallied a game-best 25 points on top of 10 rebounds against the Aces, bringing his three-game averages to 22.3 points and 9.67 rebounds.
But Locke repeatedly failed to get in synch with his teammates and, most telling for Garcia, there were stretches in the Alaska game in which the locals kept them in the game while the American watched from the bench.