12 May 2015

Can Ando Save The Day For The Bolts?

Seiya Ando
After encountering several layers of problems in securing the papers of Benny Koochoie from his Iranian team Goran, the Meralco Bolts decided to tap Japanese point guard Seiya Ando to reinforce them in the ongoing PBA Governors Cup.

Ando, who stood out playing in Japan averaging 21.2 points, 6.1 assists, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game at Meiji University, has been the top player for the national team's under-18 and under-22 teams.

After graduating, the 22-year-old guard left his home country and set out to accomplish his dream of continuing his basketball career overseas. He made his way to Los Angeles to suit up in the Drew League, one of the best summer leagues in North America, where he caught the eye of Halifax Rainmen owner Andre Levingston. Rainmen is one of the teams playing in the National Basketball League of Canada.

"I was in L.A. this summer recruiting players and a good friend of mine, who's an agent from Japan, was coaching in the Drew League," said Levingston. "I had an opportunity to watch Seiya play in the summer and I thought he was really good. We watched him again in New York City and my coach from Barcelona flew in for our mini-camp and he had an opportunity to evaluate Seiya for a few days and he thought Seiya would fit perfectly in his system. He's really talented."

The boyish-looking Ando averaged 10.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 30 games for the Rainmen, including an NBL-Canada career-high 27 points in Game Six of the Finals.

The 6-foot-1 point guard who thrives as a three-point shooter in a pick-and-roll offense and takes immense pride in his defense, is loving every minute he gets a chance to play competitive basketball in North America. A highlight from his time in Los Angeles was a scrimmage against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson where Ando played on the same team as former NBA guard Jordan Crawford.

"The Drew League was a good experience," said Ando.

Basketball remains behind soccer and baseball in terms of popularity in Japan but the gap is closing quickly. Ando remembers watching Michael Jordan for the first time as a six-year-old. He fell in love with the game because of its torrid pace and high-energy nature.

"For many people, basketball is No. 1," confirmed Ando and he's looking forward to showing people just how much basketball has grown in his country by proving himself.

The signing of Ando, who had his first impressive practice with the Bolts last 11 May, gives the team another deadly shooter from the outside to complement Gary David. He is expected to share the point guard chores with Mike Cortez.

"I think he’ll (Ando) help us. We sometimes struggle with ball pressure, so I think he’ll help us in the point guard position to allow us to be able to get to our plays easier and allow us to break the ball pressure from other teams," Black told Spin.ph shortly after the team’s practice.

The next question is, can the Bolts secure all the paper work before their next game on 13 May against the NLEX Road Warriors?

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