Slam dunk champ to outshine NBA vets?
- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 27, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two NBA veterans are now in town to showcase their skills as imports in the PBA second conference starting Feb. 18 but all eyes will be on a high-flying slam dunk champion who arrives tomorrow from Lebanon to suit up for Meralco.

Eddie Basden, who played for the Chicago Bulls in 2005-06, was signed up by Alaska while Rain Or Shine’s Hassan Adams saw action for the New Jersey Nets in 2006-07 and the Toronto Raptors in 2008-09.

Basden is now in Cebu playing for the Aces in a three-day pocket tournament with Meralco, Powerade and M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños. Alaska beat the Tigers, 92-81, in the opener last Tuesday but coach Tim Cone said he couldn’t test Basden in one-on-one situations because Powerade played zone the entire game. Titus Ivory, the first import to plane in two weeks ago, played for Powerade. Ivory, 31, is from Penn State and has campaigned in Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Belgium and Germany.

In another game last Tuesday, Meralco blasted Lhuillier, 116-100, despite playing without Asi Taulava, on loan to Smart Gilas, and import Tony Danridge, the 2009 US NCAA slam dunk king due to report tomorrow. Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio said Mac-Mac Cardona, Chris Ross and Sol Mercado were unstoppable in transition. Cardona hit 27 points and Mercado, 25, as Meralco breezed. The Bolts biggest lead was 27. Gabby Espinas chipped in 20 points and Mark Isip 16 for Meralco.

Basden, 27, flew in last Sunday. As a senior in 2004-05, he averaged 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Basden finished his Charlotte career as the varsity’s all-time leader in steals.

“Eddie’s more a perimeter guy, a two-three more than a three-four,” said Cone. “He’s not like a Sean Chambers or a Lamont Strothers. He’s more like Galen Young, I suppose, but still different from him. He definitely has a lot of skills.”

Adams, 26, was the Nets’ second round pick in the 2006 draft. He played four years at the University of Arizona, averaging 17.5 points as a senior. Nicknamed “Hot Sauce,” Adams boasts a 50-inch vertical leap and likes to jack up triples. He arrived last Friday. Adams was measured at 6-3 5/16 at the PBA office yesterday.

A Rain Or Shine source said Adams plays three but is able to move to four for post-ups. At practice, he showed the ability to get to the basket. How Adams will adjust to the PBA style remains to be seen but his wealth of international experience should make it easy. Adams has played in Italy and Serbia and for the US under-21 national team at the Tournament of the Americas in Halifax in 2004.

Tipped to steal the show is Danridge who won the 2009 US NCAA slam dunk title by elevating with two basketballs and throwing them down in quick succession then in his encore, bringing it up from his left hip in mid-air for a whirlwind stuff. Danridge, 24, played on the US Athletes In Action squad, coached by Mike Jarvis, that took the Jones Cup crown in 2006. The US crushed the Philippines, 91-68, that year. The Philippine team was made up of L. A. Tenorio, Willie Miller, Dondon Hontiveros, Arwind Santos, Joseph Yeo, Yancy de Ocampo and Denok Miranda among others.

Danridge, whose father Victor is a pastor of the Inland Empire Deliverance Center in San Bernardino, California, is coming off a stint with Byblos in the Lebanese league where he averaged 28 points a game. In 2007, he broke his left leg and survived rehabilitation to come back on the court with inspiration from the Bible.

Another import in town is Syracuse’s Paul Harris who played for the Utah Jazz in the last NBA preseason. Harris, 24, averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a Syracuse senior in 2008-09. He flew in last Monday.

B-Meg coach Jorge Gallent said the Derby Ace Llamados will test veteran Robert Brown of Buffalo for a week before deciding whether or not to sign him up for the conference. Brown, 30, is arriving this morning in time for B-Meg’s shoot-around. He has played in Australia, Iran, Israel, Dominican Republic and Argentina. Like Danridge, Brown was a former slam dunk champion – he won his prize in Australia in 2005.

Air21 team manager Allan Gregorio said the Express is considering to bring in 6-3 1/ 2 Alpha Bangura of St. John’s University. An option is to return Leroy Hickerson who hit at a 32.8 clip for Air21 last season. The problem is Hickerson may be over the 6-4 limit. Hickerson was measured at 6-5 last season but Gregorio said Air21 may bring him in for a remeasurement.

San Miguel Beer team manager Hector Calma said no decision has been made as to which import to hire but a leading candidate is Ira Brown of Gonzaga University, the school that produced John Stockton, Adam Morrison, Ronny Turiaf and Richie Frahm. Brown averaged 25 points for Coras de Tepic in the Mexican league last year.

Ginebra San Miguel coach Joseph Uichico said he’s still studying his options. He named former Barako Bull import Cornelius (Scooter) McFadgon of Tennessee, the Seattle SuperSonics’ 2004 second round draft pick David Young of North Carolina Central and Anthony Grundy of North Carolina State as candidates.

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