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Phoenix parades new import in PH Cup QF rematch with Star



By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--A new foreign reinforcement will bolster Phoenix as it takes on Star in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

The Fuel Masters will bring in former Iowa State star Jameel McKay to replace longtime import Eugene Phelps, who had to immediately leave the country after his 53-point explosion against the Blackwater Elite on Saturday night because of his earlier commitment with Puerto Rican side Brujos De Guayama.

Listed at six-feet-nine but, as what Coach Ariel Vanguardia claimed, with a seven-feet-four wing span, McKay's defensive prowess helped the Cyclones win the Big 12 Tournament in 2015, taking home the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in the process, and go on a deep run in last year's March Madness, making to the Sweet 16 round.

He then signed a professional contract with Perth in the Australian NBL and led the club's Cinderella story to the title.

McKay came in from Perth on Monday and quickly joined Phoenix's training session.

He will be tasked to defend Star's new import Tony Mitchell in their 7 p.m. clash succeeding the 4:15 showdown between Alaska and Blackwater.

Not to be confused with the former high-scoring TNT import of the same name, Mitchell starred as a rookie for North Texas in the Sun Belt Conference before declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft following his sophomore year.

Mitchell has juggled around the NBA, its D-League, and in the countries of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, China, and Israel before the Hotshots acquired his services.

Phoenix looks to avenge its Philippine Cup quarterfinal defeat to Star, which is looking to take off from an inspired semifinal run in the previous conference.

In the curtain-raiser, the Aces will try to go 2-0 in the standings, while the Elite will try to bounce back from their heartbreaking OT loss to the Fuel Masters.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno
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