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7-1 Austin to reinforce Chooks?

MANILA, Philippines — There are plans to sign up 7-1 Isaiah (Zeke) Austin to play for Chooks To Go as an import at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China, on Sept. 22-30 with the Philippine squad to exclude PBA pros for the annual club competition now on its 26th staging since its inaugural in 1981.

SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio said yesterday negotiations are now in progress to recruit Austin who’s playing for the Gungxi Rhinos in the Chinese minor league. Austin, 23, played two years with the Baylor University varsity then was diagnosed with Marfan Sydrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissues, and enlarged arteries in the heart. Austin, who’s been blind in the right eye because of a detached retina since middle school, would’ve been a first round selection in the 2014 NBA draft but because of his disorder, was pulled out of the pool. NBA commissioner Adam Silver, however, paid tribute to Austin by making him a ceremonial draft choice, announcing his name between the 15th and 16th picks.

Isaiah Austin.
Last November, Austin was cleared to continue playing after a two-year layoff. He joined a club in Serbia before moving to China. In his second year at Baylor in 2013-14, Austin averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocked shots and 28 minutes. With Gungxi, Austin is averaging 34.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, 4.3 blocked shots and 45.1 minutes in 16 games. He scored at least 40 points, including a 50-point explosion, in six outings.

Antonio said the SBP is aware of Austin’s health condition. Under tournament rules, each club is allowed to enlist two imports. Antonio said the SBP has invited Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, now in Berlin, to join Chooks. The SBP has also invited Kobe Paras, now in the US, to play. The only non-PBA players on the Gilas squad that recently took the gold medal at the SEA Games were Kiefer Ravena, Ray Ray Parks, Almond Vosotros, Toto Jose, Paras and Standhardinger.

“We’re still putting together the line-up,” said Reyes. “But Chris and Kobe are doubtful. Right now, we’re looking at our non-PBA cadets like Kief, Ray, Almond and Toto plus others we’ll invite to practice like Jeron Teng. We should know better by Monday.” Reyes said nothing is final on the imports who’ll reinforce Chooks, if ever.

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
Source: http://www.philstar.com/sports/2017/09/10/1737601/7-1-austin-reinforce-chooks

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