Imports are always a fun part of an Asian Basketball League. Leagues need a strong foundation of local players, but it’s the imports that bring a sense “star power” to the leagues.
This is Part One of the TBL Imports Preview.
So let’s talk about Imports. As mentioned in the TBL introduction preview earlier, there will be both World and ASEAN Imports. In total, this means that we could potentially see as many as 21 imports in total.
This will be a four-part write up featuring the imports of the TBL and I’ll try to follow the chronological order of when the news surfaced. Here are parts 1-4:
I’ll be naming the import first, before finishing his section by announcing where he will be playing. Just to make things…fun.
Let us begin:
Saint Patty is back! Thais are pretty much familiar with the Filipino Patrick Cabahug at this point. Cabahug has played the two past ASEAN Basketball League seasons with Hitech Bangkok City, even though he has always played the role of knight in shining armour.
Back in 2014, Patrick Cabahug was a last-minute addition to the Hitech Bangkok City roster to fulfill the second ASEAN Import slot alongside Jerick Canada. That year, he provided Hitech with a much-needed secondary scorer alongside Christien Charles.
Cabahug’s second round with Hitech wouldn’t be as delightful. He was called up as an emergency replacement in the ABL playoffs after Tyler Lamb suffered an injury. He looked rusty and wasn’t exactly in perfect condition and even though the effort was there, it wasn’t enough to for Hitech to defend their title. They would lose in the Semifinals to the Singapore Slingers.
Cabahug had also previously played for the KL Dragons in the ABL, but before all of his ABL glory, Cabahug was a star scorer at Adamson University in the UAAP.
ABL 2015, Hitech: 11.7 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 39.5 eFG%, 28.6 3p%, 2 Games
ABL 2014, Hitech: 19.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 46.0 eFG%, 33.3 3P%, 10 Games, ABL Champion
UAAP 2007, Adamson: 21.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG (as per interbasket.net forums)
Taking his talents to…
The Dunkin’ Raptors as an ASEAN Import! This was actually hinted quite a while ago during the ABL Finals when the Raptors posted a picture of a tournament they played in with Cabahug in the jersey as well. The post has since been deleted however.
Hovering at 31 years old, Cabahug isn’t as “fresh” as he used to be when he was noted as an underrated scorer going into the PBA Draft. Things never panned out and he soft of found a home in the ABL. Thailand has been so good to Cabahug that he has actually been spending most of his offseason in Thailand, running summer camps and coaching younger kids.
If Cabahug can get back into shape, he could be a go to scorer that the Raptors so dearly need alongside their World Import. He might not be fast or athletic, but his herky jerky moves can still occasionally throw defenders off.
What I wish to see
Back in 2014, Cabahug’s first game with Hitech was against the KL Dragons who he played for before. It was rumoured that the two sides didn’t exactly break up on good terms, so when Cabahug scored 38 points against them, it felt like it was a vengeance quest.
The Dragons won that game however, but it was fun seeing Cabahug in that mode.
Hitech and Cabahug didn’t have a bad break up, but I still want to see Cabahug try to go for 40 points against his former team.
Last time Thai fans saw Avery Scharer, he was siting brokenhearted at the bench after the KL Dragons lost the second game of the ABL Finals to Hitech Bangkok City (partially thanks to the guy mentioned above). Avery Scharer is originally from Seattle and has Filipino roots, which is why he was playing as an ASEAN Import for the KL Dragons and will be playing as an ASEAN Import in the TBL.
Scharer’s talent was never much of a doubt. He was an all around talent at Shoreline Community College and that all around game had travelled with him to Mongolia in his first professional stint as well.
After that, Scharer then went to Malaysia to play for Coach Ariel Vanguardia and the KL Dragons. He started off playing in the Malaysian National Basketball League and impressed there, but it was his time in the ABL that really put him firmly on the radar.
Scharer didn’t immediately start with the team at the beginning of the season. The Dragons had Moala Tautua’a and Rashawn McCarthy as ASEAN Imports. Scharer replaced McCarthy only 3 games into the season and the Dragons evolved into an offensive juggernaut with Scharer leading the way as their point guard. Scharer ended up leading the league in assists and steals and helped get the team all the way to the Finals.
After the ABL, Scharer’s name resurfaced here and there. Most notably was when he was drafted 5th overall in the PBA D-League draft by Wang’s Basketball Club (BEST NAME EVER). However, for some reason, Scharer never got the chance to play in the PBA D-League.
That’s where Avery’s scent dropped off until his name resurfaced once again as an ASEAN Import in the TBL.
ABL 2014, KL Dragons: 15.3 PPG, 7.2 APG, 6.5 APG, 2.7 SPG, 3.1 AST/TO ratio, 72.4 FT%
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
Scharer will be playing for the new team, OSK R Airlines!
Scharer was one of the first imports to be officially announced by any club and he’s been creating a buzz in the TBL since. Scharer, or as he is called “Flav”, is smack in his prime at 29, with solid size for a point guard.
His upper body strength is one of his top qualities causing him to be able to finish in traffic and maintain control of the ball in pressure. He also has long pesky arms to couple with his cat-like reactions, which makes him a tough defender, an aspect of the game that he takes pride on.
As talented as Scharer is, he is emotional. Scharer plays with a passion that few can rival, but it sometimes gets the better of him when he loses focus of the big picture. While he is cheerful, entertaining, and energetic, his mood can swing the opposite direction quickly when things don’t go his way. He can sometimes enjoy talking/arguing with the refs too much, which is something that his new coach, Prasert Siripojanakul, has taken note to take control of.
During my visit to the OSK practice, Scharer did mention a lot about his confidence in his team mates and preached teamwork. If he can really be the centerpiece of this team’s chemistry as he mentioned, his value could rise very well beyond his contributions on the court.
In Sharer, OSK is getting a one of the best talents in the league, but they will have to make sure that they can harness that power.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
Everyone should mark June 26th on their calendars because that is when OSK R Airlines will be playing Hitech.
I don’t know what will happen between a Freddie Goldstein vs. Avery Scharer matchup, but I promise you that it will be glorious.
Since, we’re on the topic with players that Thai fans are familiar with, we might as well talk about Gabriel Yuemo or as his Thai friends call him “Gabi”.
The Cameroonien native has been around in Thailand for a while as a student at Sriptathum University. Gabi also plays in the Annual University games and was awarded as the Best Center in the tournament. Sriprathum would finish in second place.
Also worth mentioning is that Gabi played in the TBL back in 2014 for the Thew-Charoen Aksorn team (which was later taken over/bought by the Mono Group and is now the Mono Thewphaingarm team today). Gabi was their lead import and did a little bit of everything, but it wasn’t enough to put that Thew team into the playoffs.
TBL 2014, Thew Charoen Aksorn: 16.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.1 APG
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
Gabi isn’t actually taking his talents anywhere, more than sticking to his usual roots and staying with Mono-Thewphaingarm. As a Cameroonian, Gabi will be playing as one of the two World Imports (who will be revealed later.).
Though he is quite strong and athletic, that’s pretty much all that he will have going for him in comparison to the other imports in the TBL this year. Unlike last time he played in the TBL, he won’t have to be a lead import and maybe that could work towards his improvement.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
Gabi’s been in Thailand for quite a while and I personally hope to see him sing the National Anthem before a game just for the sake of it happening.
Kreft isn’t a familiar name to Thai basketball fans, but Avery Scharer has heard of him. Maybe Patrick Cabahug has as well. That is because Kreft has played as an import in the Malaysian National Basketball League (MNBL) for the Kelantan Warriors.
As told by my Malaysian Basketball fanatic friend (Hi Kelvin), Kreft actually hit a game-tying three-point shot in the semifinals. His team would eventually win in overtime against…Avery Scharer and the KL Dragons. Kreft would eventually win the MNBL title.
After his stint in Malaysia, Kreft played in the NBA D-League for the Tulsa 66ers. If you thought the ASEAN Basketball League circle was small, well things just got smaller right here. During his 40 games as a third sting center for the 66ers, Kreft also played alongside former Singapore Slinger World Import, Xavier Alexander.
Before his professional career, Kreft played at Florida State University for Coach Leonard Hamilton on one of the best defensive teams I have seen in the NCAA. As a Seminole, he played alongside NBA talents like Chris Singleton and Bernard James.
To top it all off, Kreft was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic All Star game in his senior year at high school. He would share the court with Kevin Durant, Ty Lawson, and Thaddeus Young, among other top-level talents back then.
(I tried googling for pictures of Kreft in the Jordan Brand Classic game but sadly nothing came up)
NCAA Career, Florida State: 3.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 91.1 DefRTG, 10.1 MPG
NBA DLeague 2013-14, 66ers: 3.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 11.2 MPG, 40 games
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
That’s so cute. After beating out Scharer and the KL Dragons in the MNBL, the two will be reunited on the same team here at OSK R Airlines.
Kreft is reportedly as energetic and passionate as Scharer. That will be something that could swing the right way if can be taken under control, but things could go wrong if OSK loses the steering wheel.
Kreft is a big stong body who loves playing defense. His offense might not be as refined as the other imports in the TBL, but he could very make up for it by stopping them from scoring. OSK do not have a lot of size with the local players, so Kreft will be a huge part of however this season turns out for the team.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
I’d love to see Scharer throw Kreft a monster alleyoop just to watch how they celebrate it after.
Don’t blame for expecting a lot of fireworks and plenty of cuss words thrown around. These two might team up to be one of the most “loud” duos in the TBL.
Raymon Austin has taken a long journey in basketball. He went the Junior College route and played at NCAA Division II, West Virginia State, for two years. After that, he was thisclose to playing at NCAA D1 team Seton Hall, but eligibility issues forced him the other way and he expired his collegiate eligibility at St. Catherine.
Austin then started playing professionally, where (according to him) he shined the brightest in Oman. There he played for former Thailand National Team Coach, Felton Sealy.
NCAA Division 2, West Virginia State: 10.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 22.6 MPG
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
Austin’s name popped up in the PEA team’s roster when they went to tune up in a pocket tournament in Penang.
There, I got to him play in competitive games with the team that he would be playing with for the rest of the TBL (although they were missing out a couple of players). Austin did pretty well to carry the team in those games, despite having just arrive from the other side of the globe in no more than 3 days. He put up 27 points and 23 rebounds against a solid Blackwater Elite team from the PBA. While he never got a chance to go up against any other imports in this tournament, he showed that he was a strong player who could both play from the perimeter or down in the post.
He has a nice midrange jumper, he can bring the ball up the court on his own, can finish in traffic, and he can really throw it down. Again, these are all based on game where he didn’t go up against another import, but it was still impressive.
It’s hard to judge Austin from what I saw in those couple of games, so I’ll try not to.
PEA is coming off an exodus from last year’s roster and will be fielding in plenty of younger inexperienced players. They will be counting on Austin to help shoulder that load (with some help on the way) and so far, he’s shown that he has the potential to do that.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
I just want to see Austin dunk on someone so hard so we can call him Raymon “Stone Cold Steve” Austin.