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Ginebra import a perfect fit
MANILA, Philippines - Newly hired Barangay Ginebra import Leon Rodgers is known as a flat-out scorer but the word is he’s no ball-hog and the former Northern Illinois University forward is expected to fit in nicely in coach Ato Agustin’s scheme of things at the three spot in a fiery starting lineup with L. A. Tenorio, Mark Caguioa, Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter.
Rodgers, 33, leaves China, where he is now playing, tomorrow then goes home to Columbus, Ohio, to repack his bags and will arrive here on Feb. 24. Ginebra team manager Alfrancis Chua confirmed Rodgers’ signing early morning last Friday.
“(Rodgers) has to go home to Columbus since all his clothes are for winter in China,” said sports agent Sheryl Reyes. “He also wants to see his kids. He’s not married but has two kids, 12 and 13. He’s arriving in Manila alone but in his contract, he asked for two tickets to bring his kids over if and when Ginebra makes the semifinals.”
Reyes vouched for Rodgers’ playing ability. “I’ve scouted him the past five years and seen and met him in China,” she said. “He’s a very hard-working guy. His unselfish attitude makes his teammates look good. Although his stats show he scores a lot, he’s never a ball-hogger. Scoring is a role that’s usually given to him because he’s just a prolific scorer. The Chinese league says he’s fantastic and he’s No. 6 in scoring. In China, Rodgers plays four but he’s a natural three and plays five, too. He plays with (Denzel) Bowles so he’s asked to play four more often.”
At Ginebra, Rodgers and Aguilar could alternate at three or four. Rodgers’ ability to score from any angle may situate him more at three. In China, he’s the tallest import in the top six scoring standings. Rodgers is averaging 28.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 37 minutes in 21 games with the Jilin Northeast Tigers. He’s hitting 54% from two-point distance, 40% from beyond the arc and 76% from the line. His Jilin teammates include Bowles and Jordan national star Sam Daghles.
Rodgers is listed 6-7. In the Commissioner’s Cup starting March 7, Air 21 and Meralco will be allowed to bring in an import with a height limit of 6-11. The other eight teams’ limit is 6-9. Aside from Rodgers, imports confirmed to play in the second conference are Air 21’s 6-9 Herve Lamizana of Rutgers University and the Ivory Coast, Alaska’s 6-9 Rob Dozier of the University of Memphis, Globalport’s 6-9 Evan Brock of the University of Alabama, Rain Or Shine’s 6-8 Alexander McLean of Liberty University, San Mig Coffee’s 6-9 James May of Clemson University and the Central African Republic, Talk ‘N’ Text’s 6-8 Richard Howell of North Carolina State and Barako Bull’s 6-9 Wayne Chism of the University of Tennessee.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said yesterday he is still finalizing negotiations for an import. “No firm name yet,” he said. The scuttlebutt is the Bolts are considering either 6-9 D. J. White of Indiana University or 6-9 Darnell Jackson, a three-year NBA veteran from the University of Kansas.
San Miguel Beer team consultant Todd Purves said no import has been signed up. “We have it narrowed down but nobody under contract as of yet,” said Purves. “The timing is tricky as some players will be waiting for the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 20 to make some decisions. We will have someone here by the end of the month.”
Rodgers is the third Northern Illinois star to play in the PBA. The others were 7-Up’s Billy (the Kid) Harris in 1976 and Alaska’s Kenny Battle in 1993. Rodgers ended his varsity career by scoring 25 points in a 97-93 loss to Marshall University in the first round of the Mid-American Conference in 2002. Coach Dick Vitale, an ESPN commentator, described Rodgers as the most versatile player in the league. He was the only player in the Mid-American Conference to rank among the leaders in scoring (second, 21.3), rebounding (fourth, 8.5), field goal percentage (seventh, 51%) and free throw percentage (14th, 80%). Rodgers also shot 45% from three-point distance and was third on the team with a career-high 62 assists and second with 17 blocked shots.
Writer Rick McCann said Rodgers is a 219-pounder who can dominate inside and cited his 19 dunks in 2001, the most by a Northern Illinois player in 14 years. McCann said Rodgers can also step out and bury the three. “You don’t expect a 6-6 (or 6-7) guy to shoot threes,” said Marshall coach Greg White after Rodgers torched his team for 26 and 24 points in two games.
From Northern Illinois, Rodgers played in Germany, France, Holland, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia and China. A three-time Dutch league MVP, Rodgers has scored at least 40 points in three of 21 games with the Tigers this season. Last Jan. 26, he powered Jilin to a 122-111 win over the Beijing Ducks with 45 points, including 6-of-13 triples and 12-of-12 free throws.
Writer Michael Smoose said what makes Rodgers a tough act to contain is his ability to get to the stripe. As a Northern Illinois senior, Rodgers posted up smaller players and went around bigs with defenders ending up fouling to desperately stymie his attack. “The result was Rodgers setting a single-season school record with 173 makes from the free throw line, breaking the record of 168 in 1980-81,” said Smoose. Varsity coach Rob Judson said, “Rodgers allowed us to take our program to another level with the way he competed night in and night out.” That resolve is what Chua hopes Rodgers will bring to the table in the PBA.
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Pure scorer to, ang ganda ng credentials sana mag fit sha sa ginebra.. goodluck!
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3 Time Dutch League MVP.. malakas maglaro tlga ito.. tapos nakita ko sa mga video nya may shooting sa labas.. ang nkakatakot lang baka umaasa ang ginebra sa import. sana magamit ng maayos
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sana yung energy nya parang yung kay macklin. yung nakakagana kateam mate at the same time nakakagana panoorin.
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higit sa lahat dapat may NSD attitude sya!
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