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Dwight Howard '70 percent' likely joining Zamboanga for TAT

Dwight Howard is close to joining the Zamboanga Valientes for The Asian Tournament according to team owner Junnie Navarro. UAE Basketball Association (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—It might not be an April Fool's Day prank after all.

Dwight Howard could join the Zamboanga Valientes sometime during The Asian Tournament.

The news caused confusion among basketball fans when the team announced the development right on April 1 thinking that it might be an April Fool's Day joke, all the more when they posted a supposed screenshot of initial talks with the former NBA champion's camp to show that it is not fake news.

Team owner Junnie Navarro told reporters on Tuesday during Zamboanga's open practice at the Bonavida Holdings Gym that there is a good probability that they might strike a deal to acquire Howard.

"Until now, it's under negotiation, but we're hoping that we can sign him. But siguro nasa 70 percent," Navarro said.

For now, the Valientes will parade three familiar foreign reinforcements in the first phase of the TAT in Guangdong.

Former Rain Or Shine import Nick Evans, former Far Eastern University beanpole Mouhamed Faty, and former University of the Philippines stalwart Malick Diouf will backstop Zamboanga in the TAT opening week.

Diouf arguably has the best resume as he led the Fighting Maroons to three UAAP finals appearances including the Season 84 championship that ended 36 years of frustrations back in the 2022 midyear and won the Season 85 regular season MVP award months later.

For the first round of the TAT, the Valientes are grouped with the Ningbo Bulls, Vanta Black Dragons, and Taiwan Mustangs in Group B.

The other Filipino team in the field, the Gerald Anderson-led Pola Pilipinas RPG, is in Group A with the Macau Black Bears, East Sea Pirates, and Hong Kong Jambo.

Zamboanga opens its campaign on Friday night against Ningbo.

The TAT will then have two more phases before concluding its inaugural season at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.

According to Navarro, if an agreement is made by late June, Howard will see action for the Valientes in the Zamboanga leg in July.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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