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Sports

Man behind the scenes

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Back in the 1970s, Roger Jimenez fell in love with basketball playing in leagues in his Lucena hometown with the likes of Philip Cezar, Billy Abarrientos, Jimmy Santos, Romy Santos, Boy de Vera, Melencio Mendoza, Joy Dionisio, Ompong Segura, Jing Marcelino and Fred Demetrio. He recalls suiting up for Viva Shipping Lines with De Vera, Jimmy Santos and Mendoza to beat Luzonian University for the Lucena championship. Jimenez never quite made it big in the game and focused on earning a BSBA Management degree at PSBA. He eventually migrated to the US in 1980 and worked as an accounting assistant and cashier at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Jimenez retired from his day job in 2016 and now at 72, is full-time in pursuing his love for the game, not as a player but as an import broker.

In the current PBA GovernorsCup, Jimenez is credited for arranging the recruitment of Mike Harris for Magnolia and Tony Bishop for Meralco. He started his business of import brokering in 2007 with Jamaal Williams his first client for Sta. Lucia Realty. Williams is now an assistant coach at Portland State. It was Los Angeles player agent Todd Ramasar of Life Sports who introduced Jimenez to the business, knowing his connections with the PBA. Ramasars players include Torontos Pascal Siakam, Golden States Kevin Looney and legend Baron Davis. Jimenezclose contact is Kai Sottos agent Joel Bell. Former NBA player and ex-PBA import Juaquin Hawkins is Jimenez’ 14-year-old, 5-3 Fil-Am grandson Princeton Haroutoonians traveling coach.

I always watch PBA games and spend lots of time a day scouting players all over the world,” said Jimenez who still lives in LA. “Teams give the broker a fee and usually splits it 50-50 with the players agent. How Mike Harris and Bishop got to the PBA this season is an interesting story. Ive been talking to Mikes agent since 2015 when he was playing in China but he was getting paid a lot so no way he would go to the PBA. I was surprised when he played with Alaska in 2018. This year, I offered players to coach Chito (Victolero) who wanted Harris if I could get him. So I talked to Mikes agent again and told me he was ready to go back to the PBA for unfinished business. So we all agreed and hes now with Magnolia.”

Regarding Bishop, Jimenez said he offered him to Meralco coach Norman Black along with NBA veteran Shabazz Muhammad. “I negotiated with Shabazzagent, sent a contract and he went to the LA consulate to get his visa then went back home to Las Vegas to get ready to leave,” he related. “But a family problem came up and he begged not to go this time. After telling Meralco manager Paolo Trillo about it, he told me to get Bishop instead. I first scouted Bishop in Puerto Rico and I contacted his agent from Serbia. They accepted Meralcos offer. So now, Bishops playing with the Bolts and they love his all-around game which is perfect because in the PBA, a team is allowed only one import so he needs to be a do-it-all guy.”

Jimenez said through the years, he has sent imports Randy Holcomb, Henry Walker, Daryan Selvy, Manny Harris, Josh Davis, Arinze Onuaku, Seiya Ando, Chris McCullough, John Holland and even Michael Jordans son-in-law Rakeem Christmas to the PBA. “Ill never forget in 2008, Alaska assistant coach Joel Banal called me to look for Holcomb because he was coach Tim Cones choice,” he said. “They didnt know how to contact him. I found him playing in Japan and contacted his agent in England. We agreed to bring him over. I was also the first to send Walker to the PBA in 2014 with Alaska. Ive got a good relationship with Paolo Trillo because of his father Joaqui and brother Luigi who were with Alaska when I started dealing with the team.”

PBA

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