COLUMBIAN is hoping new import Khapri Alston would be another surprise for the coming PBA Governors Cup.
The Dyip are expecting Alston to do what Lester Prosper did in the last Commissioner's Cup and prove to be an effective reinforcement in their bid to make it past the playoffs for the first time under coach Johnedel Cardel.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed talaga na Khapri can play well for us," said Cardel of Alston, who arrived last Tuesday evening and started practicing with Columbian the very next day.
"Kasi hindi naman kami katulad ng ibang malalaking teams so we can only get imports who fit our budget. Iyung eksakto sa budget pero kayang sumabay," added Cardel.
"Kaya nga we're really hoping na Khapri, even though hindi siya as kilala as the other imports, can get the job done, much like what Lester did."
Prosper surely did impress in his first PBA stint. Coming in after Columbian's 1-3 start in the mid-season conference, he averaged 33.6 points, 16.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.6 blocks in seven games.
The Dyip won only two more games with Prosper, but his numbers were enough to convince management the team could have done much better if he came in early.
For sure, San Miguel Beer saw enough to tap the former Old Westbury alum as one of its reinforcements for the East Asia Super League's Terrific 12 invitationals set Sept. 17-22 in Macau.
Cardel already likes what he has seen so far in Alston.
"Big boy, can play all positions," was how Cardel initially described the 6-4 1/2 , 240-lb Chicago native, who is coming off a stint in Uruguay.
Alston actually starred for Midwestern State U but mostly plied his trade in South America after going unpicked in the 2016 NBA draft.
Still, Cardel's optimism remains. "He's very physical and athletic," noted Cardel. "Parang Willie Miller tindig. Tumatakbo, malakas mag-seal, can really play the middle as a big man."
It is not only Alston who needs to blend in with his new teammates before the Governors Cup kicks off on Sept. 20.
Following trades with NorthPort, the Dyip have acquired center-forwards Joseph Gabayni and Lervin Flores and playmaker Juami Tiongson in exchange for Russell Escoto and Jerramy King.
"Malalaking addition sa amin mga iyun, especially Gabayni and Flores," noted Cardel, who previously had to make do with a frontline occasionally made thinner by injuries to JayR Reyes and Jackson Corpuz, forcing him to tap natural forwards Andreas Cahilig and Eric Camson to help out in the middle.
"Basta ang sabi ko sa mga new acquisitions, kung sa dati n'yong teams di kayo masyadong nakalaro, dito makakalaro kayo just as long as you stick to the system, pakinggan mga instructions.
"I also told them na dito sa Columbian there is a commitment to team effort and they have to realize their roles, whatever it may be."
The Governors' Cup kicks off Sept. 20 and Columbian hopes to get a more thorough idea of how good Alston can be when they tangle with NorthPort in a tuneup match on Friday.(NC)