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GINEBRA has some very valid reasons why it is taking its sweet time looking for a reinforcement for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that starts on Feb. 10.

The mid-season tourney’s short format, coupled with the Kings’ need for another scoring option, compels them to take extra care in coming up with their choice from a narrowed-down list of possible import.

"We start practicing Jan. 11, so our import should be here by then," coach Siot Tanquingcen told Malaya Business Insight yesterday.

The Commissioner’s Cup, which features reinforcements of unlimited height, has a single round elimination format.

Tanquingcen said 7-foot Chris Alexander, who powered Ginebra to the 2008 Fiesta Conference title, is among the foreign players being considered.

"He is included in our list, but we are trying to carefully study all the candidates for us to come up with the best possible choice," he stated.

One primary consideration is for the import to help Mark Caguioa in the scoring department, something that Tanquingcen feels they currently lack.

"Mark can still score, pero kailangan may katulong siya," said Tanquingcen. "Kapag lahat ng kalaban naka-concentrate sa kanya, magiging mahirap lalo ang trabaho niya."

Defense is still paramount for Tanquingcen, he hastily added, but the three-time champion tactician maintained the dearth of other scoring options is the main reason the perennial crowd favorites failed to make it past the quarterfinals of the season-opening Philippine Cup.

"Before, we had three main scorers in Mark, Jayjay (Helterbrand) and Eric (Menk). Kapag masama ang laro ng isa, napupunuan ng dalawa," related Tanquingcen. "Pero ngayong injured sina Jayjay and Eric, nag-iisa na lang si Mark."

JC Intal and Mike Cortez tried to fill up the void but Ginebra still got swept by Rain or Shine in two games in the season-opener’s last eight.

That finish, which Tanquingcen said should have been "much better," is one motivating factor for Ginebra and showed him the one gaping hole in the Kings he needs to plug.

"Kaya kami nagkaroon ng scoring droughts (against Rain or Shine), dahil kapag nagpahinga na si Mark, wala na kaming mapuntahang iba para umi-score," said Tanquingcen.

"All the other teams have at least three legit scorers," he added. "Kaya nga we have to get more consistency from our other options or find at least another scorer, iyung katulong ni Mark na pang-diin."

There are some good news, like Helterbrand has re-signed for another conference and usual workhorse Rudy Hatfield is coming back after a one-conference sabbatical. Rico Maierhofer and Menk have also recuperated enough from their injuries. 

"Iyung mga role players, napupuno na ng dahan-dahan," said Tanquingcen.

And then there’s the import.

"At least, sa import, meron na kaming pantapal sa scoring. Di naman puwedeng import role player," he stated.


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