Sep 20, 2022

NorthPort vs Phoenix - Duel of teams chasing redemption

FROM their similar 3-8 showings in the all-Filipino tourney, NorthPort and Phoenix Fuel face each other Wednesday at the MOA Arena to begin their redemption bids in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

The Batang Pier bring in balik-import Prince Ibeh while the Fuel Masters unveil Kaleb Wesson in their 5:45 p.m. clash - the mainer in the return of the traditional PBA midseason tourney from a two-year hiatus.

It's an easy decision for NorthPort to reconnect with Ibeh, the British-Rwandan 6-10 mastodon who powered the Batang Pier to a breakthrough second-seeding in the last PBA Commissioner's Cup in 2019.

Alas, the Batang Pier found themselves pitted with the powerhouse San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals then. Ibeh and his teammates squandered their twice-to-beat advantage versus the team that went all the way to win the championship.

Thus, Ibeh, a more seasoned player now at 28, is out to finish an unfinished business in his PBA comeback.

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He's teaming up with Robert Bolick, Arwind Santos, Kevin Ferrer, Roi Sumang and the rest of coach Pido Jarencio's chargers as they seek a spark in a desired strong start after a tough struggle in the Philippine Cup.

The Fuel Masters eye the same, even as long time top gun Matthew Wright is gone.

Jason Perkins and Sean Anthony are expected to take the mantle of leadership and hold the fort with Wesson, the youngest in the current crop of imports at 23.

Both Wesson and Blackwater's Cameron Krutwig are 23, but the Phoenix import is younger by seven months.

The Westernville, Ohio native is bringing his stuff to the PBA from his stint with the Maccabi Rishon LeZion team in the Israeli Basketball Premier League earlier this year.

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Prior engagements abroad were with the Filou Oostende in the Belgian league then with the Hapoel Gilboa Galil in lsrael in 2021.

The 6-10 center/power forward spent three years with Ohio State in college basketball before applying for the NBA Draft in 2020.

Going undrafted, he signed with the Golden State Warriors but was released on Dec. 18, 2020. Then he drifted with the Santa Cruz Warriors. (SB)