Mike shares PBA memories

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

Mike Singletary has played basketball as an import in Belgium, Uruguay, Greece, Montenegro, Italy, Japan and the Philippines for eight years. The 6-5 scoring machine from Humble, Texas, is now 32, still balling and hoping to continue doing what he does best, knocking down shots from every angle on the floor. His first stop in Asia was with Barako Bull in the PBA in 2013 and Singletary said it was the perfect introduction to life in the other part of the world.

It was scary at first, the culture was different, the food was different and I didnt know what to expect,” said Singletary on the EASL Clubhouse platform yesterday. “The best thing was starting off in the PBA. Filipino fans are great, theyre passionate, they know the game. I was comfortable in the Philippines and I loved it. Barako was an underdog team but we had a successful run with Big Mike (Pennisi) who was hilarious, Dorian (Peña) and Emman (Monfort). It was fun playing with those guys. Then, in 2016, I went back to the PBA with San Miguel Beer whose championship history is amazing. The team was super talented and had guys like June Mar (Fajardo), one of the best bigs Ive ever played with, Alex (Cabagnot), Chris (Ross) and the list went on. The PBAs a physical league and as a player, youve got to adapt. What I liked about it was your teammates had your back. Its even more physical in the playoffs. But while the game is physical, the skill level is extremely high. One of my favorite guys is Gabe Norwood whos an awesome defender.”

Singletary recalled playing for Mighty Sports in the 2016 Jones Cup with teammates like Al Thornton, Jason Brickman and Dewarick Spencer. Mighty, coached by Bo Perasol, bagged the title via a 7-0 sweep. He said it was probably the most talented team hes ever played on with stars sitting on the bench because there were others soaking in the minutes. Singletary said hed embrace the opportunity to play as a naturalized import if given the chance. He played four years in Thailand so suiting up for the country would be a welcome option, if ever. “Id love to be a naturalized player, to be given the honor of playing for a country, it would be the ultimate,” he said. “Id definitely do it. The closest Ive been to playing for a national team was with Thailands Mono Vampire in the ABL. I played with Tyler Lamb, who has a Thai passport. Moses Morgan also has a Thai passport but hasnt played for the national team yet.”

Singletarys first love was baseball, the sport he played growing up then when he had a growth spurt at 13-14 to 6-2, basketball loomed as a career pathway. He played at Texas Tech for coach Bobby Knight and later his son Pat. In 2009, Singletary became a campus hero after lifting the varsity from 21 points down to beat Texas A&M with 43 points. To this day, hes a scorching scorer. In the Taiwan P.League this past season, Singletary averaged a near triple double to earn Finals MVP honors, leading the Fubon Braves to the throne.

Asia will always be Singletarys priority to play in and hes hoping to return to Taiwan next season. “Ive won titles in the NBA D-League, Jones Cup and Thailand but this last one was special because of the COVID situation,” he said. “At Fubon, our captain was Winston (Tsai Wen-Cheng) whos like Udonis Haslem in that hes our leader, the guy who keeps us focused and knows when to keep it light. My teammates Tseng Wen-Ting (known as Long Hair by Filipino fans) and Lin (The Beast) Chi-Chieh are legends in Taiwan. The Beast is turning 39 (today) but hes not passing the torch anytime soon.” Singletary said Asias talent level is “amazingand when EASL gets off the ground, itll be evident. “EASL is such a great platform because the best teams go up against the best and fans get to see all different styles of play in the home-and-away format,” he noted. “Not a lot of people around the world know how good these leagues in Asia are.”

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