Magnolia will be the latest team to banner a former NBA player as an import as it makes a crucial change ahead of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals.
The Hotshots are set to bring in Rakeem Christmas, who saw action for the Indiana Pacers two seasons ago. He will replace James Farr after nine games with the team. Coach Chito Victolero confirmed this development to ESPN5.
Christmas is targeting a debut against TNT on Wednesday once he passes the height measurement and submits his documents and permits on time.
A former Syracuse recruit, Christmas was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with its 36th pick back in the 2015 NBA draft before his rights were later traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He joined the Cavs' Summer League squad before being traded again to the Indiana Pacers for a second-round pick.
In Indiana, Christmas was often assigned to the team's NBA Development League affiliate Fort Wayne Mad Ants. There, he was named to the East All-Star team for the 2016 D-League All-Star Game. Christmas was later able to make his debut in the big league in the Pacers' final regular season game in the 2015-16 season and played 29 more games with them the following season.
Christmas normed averages of 2.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.2 blocks on 46.7 percent shooting for the Pacers.
After getting waived by Indiana, Christmas played for Galatasaray in the Turkish Basketball Super League, the New Zealand Breakers in Australia's National Basketball League and the Henan Roaring Elephants in China's NBL.
Christmas' entry will effectively end Farr's short stint with the team. Farr averaged 21.8 points, 18.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks per game on 45 percent shooting from the field. Farr came in as a replacement for John Fields, who was given the boot after the Hotshots lost their opening game by 23 points to Alaska. Farr actually started out well for Magnolia, leading them to five straight wins after losing in his PBA debut against NorthPort. But the team has lost its last three games to drop to a tie for fifth at 5-5, prompting team management to make another change.
At 5-5, Magnolia is currently in the mix for either the fifth or seventh seed. A win against TNT on Wednesday means that it can lock up the No. 5 berth and set up a showdown with Ginebra regardless of the San Miguel-Meralco game result, but the Hotshots will face a twice-to-beat disadvantage against NorthPort if they lose against the KaTropa and the Beermen win against the Bolts.