Meralco Bolts to represent PH in FIBA Asia Champions Cup

The Meralco Bolts have been selected to represent the Philippines in the 2018 FIBA Asia Champions Cup where they will compete against some of the region's top professional ball clubs.

Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo said they intend to pair hulking import Allen Durham with another reinforcement who can bring added ceiling and inside presence as the Bolts battle stronger teams in the Asian club championship.

This year's edition will be held in Nonthaburi, Thailand from September 27 to October 2.

"There are some names we're looking at. Definitely AD (Durham) will be with us but we are looking at a taller, bigger import as our second import," Trillo told ESPN5 on Sunday.

Trillo said they intend to come up with a final decision any time within the week.

As far as Meralco's PBA Governors' Cup schedule is concerned, the PBA already gave word to the Bolts that their September 28 match against Rain or Shine will be adjusted to another date.

Last year, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas bannered by naturalized player candidate Isaiah Austin, Kiefer Ravena, Carl Bryan Cruz and Jeron Teng placed fifth.

Al-Riyadi, a professional club from Lebanon, will defend the FIBA Asia Champions Cup title it won last year.

Aside from Meralco and Al-Riyadi, other squads playing in the tournament include 2018 Chinese Basketball Association champion Liaoning Flying Leopards, reigning Korean Basketball League titlist Seoul SK Knights, 2018 Japan B. League champion Alvark Tokyo, Taipei's Pauian, Mono Vampire of Thailand and Iranian professional team Petrochimi Bandar Imam BC.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, who is also governor of the Bolts in the PBA, was grateful to the league for approving his request to have Meralco represent the country in the Champions Cup, which runs in conflict with the current PBA conference. The SBP originally tapped a D-League team reinforced by two imports, but FIBA President Patrick Baumann wrote back to express his desire to have a PBA team represent the country instead.

"I had to present the request of Mr. Baumann to the PBA Board and Commissioner Willie Marcial and without hesitation, they acceded to it. Due to schedule constraints and so as not to disrupt the preparation of other teams, the Meralco Bolts volunteered to represent our country.

"SBP is thankful to coach Norman Black and Meralco Bolts for accepting the challenge to represent the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup."

"Without a doubt, the partnership of the PBA and the SBP has become more solid," said league chairman Ricky Vargas. "This is also part of our continued commitment to promote goodwill and strengthen our relationship with FIBA. All of these wouldn't be possible without the gracious support and cooperation of the PBA."