Barako unveils explosive import
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 8, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Allen Durham, a three-time National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Finals MVP, will make his Barako Bull debut against Globalport in the PBA Governors Cup at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna, this afternoon and is expected to rival opposing import Dior Lowhorn in a Wild West shootout.

Durham, 25, takes over from Eric Wise who compiled impressive numbers but just couldn’t lift the Energy Cola out of a rut. Barako Bull and Globalport are battling to stay alive in the single round-robin eliminations with identical 1-5 records. Not too many games are left in the schedule so that the Binan duel is like a playoff for survival. After today’s contest, Barako Bull faces Talk ‘N’ Text on Tuesday and Alaska next Sunday to wind up its calendar while Globalport meets Air21 on Wednesday and Meralco on Saturday.

Wise averaged 28.7 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in six games before flying out. Barako Bull’s only win with Wise in harness was a 95-94 squeaker over the Bolts. The Energy Cola was close to picking up two more wins but lost to San Miguel Beer, 115-112 in overtime and to Rain Or Shine, 96-93. When Barako Bull was trounced by Barangay Ginebra by 18 last Tuesday and Wise was held to 16 points, the decision was made to bring in Durham.

Barako Bull and Globalport were recently involved in a trade so their showdown is also a test of chemistry with new players adjusting to new roles. The Energy Cola welcomed Nico Salva and Bonbon Custodio while the Batang Pier picked up Ronjay Buenafe. Globalport Governor Erick Arejola said newly-acquired Yancy de Ocampo won’t suit up to recover from a fractured nose and Jay Washington, who sat out Friday’s game against Talk ‘N’ Text due to illness, is doubtful.

Durham is the all-time leading scorer and rebounder of Grace Bible College, a private Christian school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a population of less than 500 students. He compiled 2,467 points and 1,314 rebounds in four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11. The 240-pound forward averaged 15.5, 14.2, 19.8 and 18.3 points in each of his four varsity seasons. He led the Tigers to the NCCAA Division 2 championship in his last three years. The NCCAA is an association of Christian universities, colleges and Bible schools in the US and Canada with a membership of 111 institutions, including 42 in Division 2. In three of his four seasons at Grace Bible, Durham shot at least 40 percent from beyond the arc. Although he’s a scorching outside scorer, Durham was described as a post player and inside operator by Barako Bull assistant team manager Jay Llanos-Dee.

From the NCCAA, Durham played as an import in Romania, Finland, Israel and France. In 44 games with Nantes in the French league, Durham averaged 18.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 turnovers and 33.2 minutes. He shot 65 percent from the line, 33 percent from three-point range and 60 percent from two-point distance. Scouting reports said Durham is “energetic” and an “extremely active rebounder.”

Globalport owner Mikee Romero said he worked out the trades that brought in Buenafe, De Ocampo and Val Acuna to toughen the Batang Pier down the stretch. Globalport enjoyed early leads over San Mig Coffee, San Miguel Beer and Talk ‘N’ Text before collapsing in the late going. “I need those players so that we could compete,” said Romero. “In the last quarter of every game, our players are so tired.”

Leroy Hickerson played three games for Globalport before Lowhorn checked in to succeed him. Lowhorn averaged 35.5 points in his first two games before the Texters held him to 22 in a 97-82 win last Friday. Lowhorn, 27, averaged 30.9 points and 11.4 rebounds with Ginebra in the Governors Cup last season but couldn’t advance the Barangay beyond the quarterfinals where the team lost to Petron with a twice-to-beat disadvantage. Ginebra posted a 4-7 record with Lowhorn. Arejola said there are no plans to replace Lowhorn who has played in Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Venezuela, Tunisia, Japan, Morocco and Saigon.

Six teams have stuck it out with their original imports. They are Alaska with Henry Walker, San Miguel Beer with Reggie Williams, San Mig Coffee with Marqus Blakely, Air21 with Dominique Sutton, Barangay Ginebra with Zaccheus Mason and Rain Or Shine with Arizona Reid. Talk ‘N’ Text has made three import changes from Othyus Jeffers to Rodney Carney to Paul Harris. Last Friday, Harris announced his return with a 37-point eruption in the Tropa’s 97-82 win over Globalport. Harris led Talk ‘N’ Text to the 2010-11 Commissioner’s Cup title in a six-game Finals over Barangay Ginebra whose import was Nate Brumfield. He came back to play for the Texters in the 2011-12 Governors Cup which Rain Or Shine won with Jamelle Cornley. Blakely and Meralco import Mario West, now playing in the Governors Cup, also played in that conference.


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