26 May 2016

Bolts' Import Prospect: Xavier Silas

Xavier Silas
New imports are expected in the upcoming Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governor's Cup. Many of them need to prove themselves in the off season to earn a roster spot and then make the most of their opportunity.

The Governor's Cup will probably start after 15 July and end by mid October. The import limit was set to 6-foot-5 and there is no word yet if the league will allow teams to tap an Asian import just like last year with a height limit of 6-foot-3.

For the Meralco Bolts, there are several names thrown around, but no decisions were made yet and no announcements are expected any time soon, which is understandable. From the long list, Xavier Silas offered a very promising prospect for the Bolts and could fit well to the defense-oriented system of coach Norman Black.

After a stint with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012, Silas nearly made the Washington Wizards’ roster in 2013, but was one of the team’s final cuts.

The son of two-time ABA All-Star James Silas later joined Nea Kifisia in Greece, averaging 11.9 points and shooting 50 percent from the field. While he possesses NBA talent, he has had stints in France, Israel, Argentina and Greece.

After a year, he was back in training camp with Washington for what was his best opportunity yet.

"With the Wizards the second time around I really felt like the stars were aligning," Silas said. "I know I have all of the tools to be in the league, I just haven’t gotten that real opportunity to be in there for various reasons. The feedback I get is never that I'm not good enough, it's always roster spots, the salary cap, wanting more experience, etc."

"The thing is, he has great confidence in himself," head coach Randy Wittman. "He goes out there, make or miss, he’s not threatened and I like that in a guy in that position. But as I keep telling him, he’s got to show me that he can solidly do the things that we want to get done from a defensive standpoint, too."

Silas took Wittman’s comments to heart and has made improving his defense his No. 1 priority since he left Wizards training camp in 2014.

He sought the advice and instruction of Joe Connelly III, a player development coach with the Wizards, and the two formed a bond and relationship that’s still strong today.

"Xavier’s ball handling is vastly improved and he is just now starting to use his athleticism to explode to the basket," Connelly told BSN Denver over text. "Xavier has a legitimate NBA-ready skill in his jumper. Add his defensive prowess, his work ethic and just the type of person he is and you have someone who’s an ideal candidate for a team in need of a knockdown shooter."

Silas has the size and skillset to be a two-way guard for Meralco, which is predicated on the ability to shoot and defend the position at a high level. With the departure of Gary David and the misfiring Jimmy Alapag, Silas could be the team's shooter and a classic 3-and-D guy.

The now 27-year-old, Austin, TX, native has paid his dues and is ready to reap the rewards. Silas is on the radar of several NBA teams after his stints in Philadelphia and Washington and the success he’s showed in the D-League. He’s endured the physicality of overseas basketball overseas, which could serve him well if Meralco decides to tap him.

"My goal is to be one of the best players in the world. That's possible in the NBA and that's also possible abroad. Whatever opportunity is the best one for me and makes the most sense for my future, I’m going to attack it."

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