09 June 2016

Instead of Ken Bono, Why Not Justin Chua

Justin Chua
Late last year, it was reported that the Meralco Bolts was preparing to sign former Ateneo slotman Justin Chua. However, two congferences later, fans have yet to see Chua in Meralco uniform. Instead, coach Norman Black settled with burly veteran Ken Bono.

Unfortunately, Bono doesn't really bring anything else to the table. The 6-foot-5 center is neither a rim protector nor a solid rebounder. In his 16 games so far, he averaged 1.06 rebounds and 1.94 points. He hardly ever moves the needle as a rebounding threat inside the paint.

On the other hand, the 6-foot-6 Chua has defied people's expectations after he was selected 10th overall pick of San Mig Coffee Mixers (no known as the Star Hotshots) during the 2013 draft.

Chua is 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 their opponents 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 Junemar 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 in 2014 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.

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