View Full Version : Ex-Warrior for RP 5

02-01-2009, 02:46 PM
Ex-Warrior to play for RP 5?
By Joaquin Henson Updated February 01, 2009 12:00 AM

Former Golden State Warriors forward Chris Taft is applying to join the Philippine team as a naturalized player and SBP executive director Noli Eala said yesterday the 6-10, 260-pound New Yorker might plane in for exhibition games against the Puerto Rican league champion Capitanes de Arecibo here late next month.

Taft, 23, was highly recommended to Eala by Toronto Raptors director of player personnel Jim Kelly, a former PBA coaching consultant with Great Taste.

“I am now in contact with Taft’s agent,” said Eala. “Taft is willing to apply for naturalization. We’re looking for a long-term commitment of at least three years up to the 2012 London Olympics. According to Jim, Taft is a low post player, can defend and can run the floor. He came out of college early to play in the NBA but wasn’t ready. Now that he has matured, Jim thinks he’s ready for the international game.”

Based on Kelly’s scouting report, Eala said Taft is at the top of the applicants’ list. Others expressing interest to play for the Philippine squad were 7-3 former Los Angeles Clippers center Keith Closs, 6-9 Gentry Lewis of Delta State, 7-foot Deng D’Awol of Wayland Baptist and two unnamed Serbian centers.

“Taft’s age is perfect for our requirements,” said Eala. “He’s single. He has no attachments and he’s willing to relocate. We’ll try to bring him in for the Capitanes series if it pushes through.”

Capitanes is the reigning Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) titleholder. BSN is the Puerto Rico premier basketball league. Capitanes beat Gigantes de Carolina, 99-94, in Game 7 of the BSN finals to win the title last season. The team is based in Arecibo, 50 miles west of San Juan on the north coast of Puerto Rico. It was formed in 1946 and has won three BSN crowns in 1959, 2005 and 2008.

Eala said he is proposing a four-game series with Capitanes starting Feb. 21 but team coordinator Ray Caban is requesting to advance it to Feb. 8. The plan is for Capitanes to play two games against the PBA selection coached by Yeng Guiao and two games against the national developmental squad of Serbian coach Rajko Toroman.

A four-team “pocket” tournament is also a possibility but Eala said no reply has been received from the Lebanese club Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut where Fadi El-Khatib plays. Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut is reportedly in turmoil with players protesting delayed payment of salaries and bonuses. El-Khatib, who is leading the protest, has been banned two years from playing for Beirut. The Singapore Slingers were earlier invited to play in the tournament with Capitanes, Guiao’s team and Toroman’s squad but owner Bob Turner begged off as most of the players are now on leave.

Capitanes’ request to advance the first game to Feb. 8 will be in conflict with the PBA finals schedule as national players Willie Miller, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jared Dillinger and Sonny Thoss are playing in the title series. A possible Game 6 will be played on Feb. 8.

“Coach Rajko is looking forward to playing Capitanes,” said Eala. “For sure, Coach Yeng also welcomes the opportunity to get in some games. Puerto Rico is ranked No. 11 in the world and Capitanes is the top Puerto Rican team. There are at least five national players and two foreigners in Capitanes’ lineup. We expect a highly competitive series.”

Capitanes is led by 6-5 Angel (Buster) Figueroa who compiled 33 points and 21 rebounds in the BSN title clincher last season. Others in the lineup are 6-9 Angel Rosa of Brescia College (Kentucky), 6-5 David Ruiz of Venezuela, 6-1 Eddin (Guayito) Santiago of Missouri Southern, 6-4 Edgardo Ramirez, 6-9 Jeff Aubry of Cornell University, 6-10 Ricardo Osiris of Missouri Southern, 6-2 Rafael Cruz of Youngstown State, 7-1 Raul Rivera and 6-1 Wilfredo Pagan. Former PBA imports Lamont Strothers and Tyrone Washington used to play for Capitanes.

Taft averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots as a senior at Xaverian Prep, the same high school that former NBA star Chris Mullin attended, in Brooklyn in 2003. He is one of only eight cagers in University of Pittsburgh history to collect over 100 career blocked shots despite just two years with the varsity. Taft started in 53 of 65 games at Pittsburgh, averaging 12 points and 7.5 rebounds. He was Golden State’s second round draft pick in 2005. His salary with the Warriors was $664,209 in 2006-07. Last season, Taft was signed by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBDL.

02-07-2009, 02:30 AM
is the 4 game series with this Puerto Rican team pushing through ?? this would be cool to record on video....