10 July 2015

Coach Black's Former Player Could Be An Option

Justin Chua
The Meralco Bolts had to explore various options in order to fill that void in the center spot, which is one of the areas that coach Norman Black has been struggling to cover since joining the team last year.

Reynel Hugnatan is just too small. James Sena is just too soft. John Ferriols is just too old. And the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft is just to shallow to include quality big men.

Free agency and unprotected players is one viable option that coach Black could explore. Isaac Holsten is still available and if indications are true, then he is also working hard to get back into the league and prove his true worth.

However, if everything does not pan out with the former 7th overall pick of the GlobalPort Batang Pier during the 2013 draft, then the Bolts may want to check out the 10th overall pick of San Mig Coffee Mixers in that same year - Justin Chua.

Ironically, the two big rookies back then had a wake-up call about life in the pro league after they were traded with each other immediately after being chosen in the draft. Aside from Chua though, GlobalPort also received veteran forward Leo Najorda from the deal.

The 6-foot-6 Chua is used to surpassing people’s expectations. He’s one of the few Blue Eagles who won an unprecedented five straight UAAP championships in a row.

He was also part of the Blackwater Elite team that denied the NLEX Road Warriors their fifth straight Foundation Cup championship in the PBA D-League (Developmental League) back in 2013, sweeping them 2-0 in the finals and beating his old Blue Eagles teammates Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, and Kirk Long.

The match-up was an eye-opener to many PBA coaches and scout because it was in that series that Chua constantly hounded and outplayed Slaughter and the rest of the All-Star line-up of NLEX.

After that victory, Chua decided to go into the PBA draft. "While my name is still hot, why not?"

"I ended up being the 10th pick by PureFoods. I was really surprised because I never expected to go that high. As long as I was drafted I would have been happy, but to be in the top 10 with Greg was really a blessing," Chua told iMoney and GMANews.TV.

After the draft, Chua has not been that hot. He did get a lot of playing time with GlobalPort considering his rookie status, 10.7 minutes per game, but he can only give the team 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds on average.

He was later traded to the San Miguel Beermen in exchange for Yousef Taha during his sophomore year in the PBA. He was expected to provide relief to an already talented frontline composed of Junmar Fajardo and Doug Kramer. Unfortunately, his numbers suffered.

The Beermen may have won the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup title, but Chua was really a non-factor. In his second year in the league, Chua average only 5.9 minutes per game along with 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds.

Early this year, he was traded to the Barako Bull in a three-team deal where Dorian Pena joining Barangay Ginebra, while Jay-R Reyes going to the Beermen.

After the Barako Bull was eliminated from the Governor's Cup contention. Chua's status is unclear. His name is not included in the official roster of the team. He may have been placed in the injured list or included in the reserved squad. However, one thing is clear, coach Black's former ward is one steady post player with a mid-range game if only given enough time to strut his wares.


  1. His stats are equivalent to Isaac's for the number of minutes played. Defense and shot blocking is a big plus for Isaac.

  2. His stats are equivalent to Isaac's for the number of minutes played. Defense and shot blocking is a big plus for Isaac.

  3. I agree Jay. Holstein and Chua produce almost the same numbers. Hence, it will be prudent for the Bolts, if they decide to pursue either of them, to give them a workout ans see who can fit the system more and give the team a BIG presence in the middle.