Ex-PBA imports down to 5 in NBA
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2014 - 12:00am

With the NBA season only a few days away from opening, five former PBA imports are still clinging to roster spots and the list includes 7-foot center Earl Barron who played 14 games for Red Bull in the 2005 Fiesta Conference and 10 with Meralco in the 2011-12 Commissioner’s Cup.

Of the five, three saw action in the NBA last season. They were Josh Powell of North Carolina State, Henry Sims of Georgetown and Donald Sloan of Texas A&M. Powell, 31, played a game for the Houston Rockets while Sims, 26, averaged 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 46 games, 26 with Philadelphia and 20 with Cleveland. Sloan, 28, hit at a 2.3 clip in 48 games with Indiana.

Other former PBA imports who played in the NBA last season were San Miguel Beer’s Reggie Williams in three games with Oklahoma City, Talk ‘N’ Text’s Othyus Jeffers in four games with San Antonio and two with Minnesota and Talk ‘N’ Text’s Tony Mitchell in three games with Milwaukee.

Powell played only two games for Barangay Ginebra in the Commissioner’s Cup last season and left to join the Rockets. The six-year NBA veteran is hanging on to a spot in the Houston lineup but it’s not likely he’ll be retained. So far, he has played in only one preseason game, going scoreless in 6:29 against the Dallas Mavericks.

Sims, who was undrafted in the NBA like Powell, played six games for Petron as Rodney White’s replacement in the 2012-13 Commissioner’s Cup. White came in as the banned Renaldo Balkman’s sub. Sims broke into the NBA with New Orleans in 2012-13 but hit his stride with the 76ers late last season, averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in 26 outings. It looks like the 6-10 Sims is a cinch to stay with the Sixers. In five preseason games, Sims averaged 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 27 minutes as a starter. Unfortunately, Philadelphia won only one of those five contests. Sims started at power forward once and center the rest of the way.

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Sloan played seven games for Ginebra in the 2010-11 Governors Cup and has suited up for Atlanta, New Orleans, Cleveland and Indiana in three NBA seasons. He was in Manila with the Pacers for the preseason game against Houston last year. In five of six Indiana preseason games, Sloan averaged 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 24 minutes. He started only once in a game where Indiana regulars George Hill, Rodney Stuckey and Roy Hibbert sat out. Sloan is expected to come off the bench or will be set out as trade bait this season.

Barron and Jerome Jordan (Talk ‘N’ Text, 2013) are also holding on to roster spots. Barron, 33, is a 7-foot center who has played for Miami, New York, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Detroit, Golden State and Washington in a 7-year NBA career, earning at least $3 Million. In six preseason games with Phoenix so far, he averaged 3.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 12.5 minutes. His best showing came in a Houston 95-92 win over the Suns where he collected 10 points and 13 boards in 24:01 minutes. Phoenix has one cut left before starting the season with the required 15-man roster so Barron might just make it.

Jordan, 28, made a strong argument for Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins to keep him as he fired 17 points on 7-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws in 23 minutes in a Nets preseason loss to Boston, 95-90, last Oct. 19. The 7-foot Jamaican national player also delivered seven points and four rebounds in 18:14 minutes in a Nets win over Philadelphia the next day. Jordan played six games for Talk ‘N’ Text in the 2012-13 Commissioner’s Cup, averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. He was the Milwaukee Bucks’ second round pick in the 2010 NBA draft and played 21 games with New York in 2011-12, earning $473,600. Jordan is trying out for Andray Blatche’s position in the Brooklyn lineup.

Among the ex-PBA imports cut during the NBA preseason were Williams by Miami, Ginebra’s Vernon Macklin by New Orleans, San Miguel Beer’s Elijah Millsap by Milwaukee, Barako Bull’s D. J. Mbenga by New York and San Miguel Beer’s Kevin Jones by New Orleans.

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Mbenga, 33, and Jones, 25, were struck out only the other day. The 7-foot Congo center has played with Dallas, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans, pocketing over $11 Million in playing 234 total games over seven NBA seasons. In five preseason games with the Knicks, he played in only one and scored two points in 4:36 minutes. With 15 players holding guaranteed contracts, Mbenga just couldn’t be accommodated by Knicks coach Derek Fisher.

Jones, 25, played nine games for San Miguel Beer in the Commissioner’s Cup last season as Josh Boone’s replacement. The Beermen posted a 5-4 record with Jones who shot at least 30 points in four outings. In 2012-13, Jones played 32 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Attempting an NBA comeback, he averaged 10 points for Indiana in the summer league then was invited to join New Orleans. But in the Pelicans’ seven preseason contests, Jones played in only three, scoring a total of seven points in an average of five minutes. The release was inevitable.

Another preseason cut was Fil-Am Stephen Holt of St. Mary’s College. Holt, a 6-4 guard, averaged 8.6 points in five games with Atlanta in the summer league and saw action in two preseason outings with the Cavaliers before he was waived.

Two Fil-Ams holding on to roster spots are 6-5 Jordan Clarkson with the Los Angeles Lakers and 6-2 Aaron Craft with Golden State. Clarkson, 22, was drafted in the second round by Washington this year then traded to the Lakers while Craft, 23, was undrafted out of Ohio State. The only Fil-Am ever to play in the NBA is Raymond Townsend, a UCLA guard who played for Golden State in 1978-79 and 1979-80 and Indiana in 1981-82.

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