29 August 2016

Will Meralco Hire a New Asian Import?

It's almost two weeks since the Meralco Bolts released their Iranian import swingman Mohammad Jamshidi, but there are still some insinuations that the team will soon be hiring a replacement.

The Bolts decided to let go of Jamshidi after failing to live up to expectations. In five games, he only averaged 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 16 minutes.

Coach Norman Black observed that Jamshidi struggled to shoot, making only 26 percent (nine of 35) of his field goals and never hitting a single triple (0 of 16) during his short PBA stint.

"He hasn’t hit from the outside while he was playing here," Black said of the Iranian national team veteran who is expected to play in next month’s FIBA Asia Challenge where Gilas Pilipinas will also see action.

Black said it’s still possible for him to hire a replacement, but declared that the new Asian import should complement well with reinforcement Allen Durham.

"We're open to that, but we haven’t discussed that yet," Black told sportswriters recently.

However, being stuck in the middle of the pack, some observers suggest that the only way Meralco can break the upper half of the standing is if they are able to get a reliable outside shooter.

As a team, Meralco is shooting only 34.5 percent from the 3-point area. This is not bad at all, but the numbers are deceptive and skewed due to the high percentage coming from Jimmy Alapag, Ryan Buenafe and Reynel Hugnatan.

Still worrying are the 16.0 percent, 25.0 percent and 36.8 percent shooting from Baser Amer, Chris Newsome and Jonathan Uyloan. These players were supposed to provide a great threat from the outside in order to relieve Allen Durham who likes to operate in the shaded area. Unfortunately, this is not happening and may haunt the team if they get through to the next round.

Possible Asian imports who can shoot the lights out in the court could be the missing ingredient. However, Black said it would be tricky for Meralco to add a new player in this juncture of the tournament.

"I've coached in this league for a long time and if you bring someone at this stage where we’ve already played six games, it’s like going back from scratch instead of moving forward," Black said.

Instead, Black wants to give more minutes to his locals. Could these players answer the call? That is something that everyone is curious in knowing.

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