Friday, July 27

Asian Prospects For The Raptors

This week , the Raptors appointed Masari Ujiri as its director of global scouting . Good . That means the Raptors are looking at other areas of the globe aside from Europe for new finds . Ujiri was said to be responsible for as much as 50 US college scholarship offers to African ballers and was previously the international scout for the Denver Nuggets. Maybe he was responsible for bringing former Raptor, Mamadou Ndye, to TO via Denver. By the sound of his name , Mr. Ujiri is a Japanese . Now I know why a Jap baller named Yari Tabuse was with the Nuggets training camp in 2003 before he made the Phoenix Suns line up in 2004 . That's what 'connection' will do . Also some years ago , Jim Kelly , the Raptors director of player personnel, tried to bring to the NBA a Filipino baller named Johnny Abarientos , then the premier point guard in Asia. Kelly ( right photo) was once a Manila resident and in fact has a Filipina for a wife . No doubt , Ujiri will open a lot of doors for African and Asian ballers here.
I bet one of the 1st job Mr. Ujiri is to be at the FIBA Asia Tournament set to start today in Japan . He'll see the Asian prospects there. It's important that the Raptors consider a prospect(s) only if the baller has a strong following in multi cultural Toronto. Unless of course the prospect is an exceptional talent. Let's see how each national team's players will fare in Toronto.

1. Middle East. Jordan , Syria, Lebanon and Iran line ups include good , strong and tall players but I doubt if these nations have strong followings in TO. Unless another Ron Seikaly (former Miami Heat) of Lebanon shows up here , it is highly unlikely that B.C. will be interested. But who knows . Inshalla .

2. Far East ( except China) . China is well scouted so no need to review its line up . Besides , the Chinese is sending their 2nd team in this tournament . China automatically qualifies for the Beijing Olympics being the host country.

Korea has former Trailblazer 7'3'' Ha and a host of sharpshooters. This country beat China with Yao in the lineup so it must be good. Actually , the Koreans play like China. They are deadly 3 point shooters. So instead of Parker , it's Park you may see in the future Raptors line up and then you will see all the neighborhood grocers in TO at ACC come game day.
India . Imagine if we are able to bring in a good Indian player . It will be a slam dunk here in TO as well as in India. This country is 2nd to China in population (1 billion ). I don't have to tell you how many Indian doctors , computer geeks and others are there in the city . Proof is Raptors' SuperFan (shown here in the photo with VC's Mom) . India's roster is composed of tall, lanky ballers and unless they are talking about Bollywood basketball movie , its not time yet for an Indian Yao Ming . Soon. KG's visit last year and the newly set up NBA office in India will have some impact. ' I can tell you that there is groundswell calling for an NBA in India ' said David Stern . So it's free curry flavored pizza at ACC then .
Phillippines. Possible .Their ballers play the way basketball is played in the US . Entertaining one on one basketball Why ? More than half of its national players are graduate of US NCAA colleges and universities. They are products of mixed marriages - Filipino and American . Filipinos are passionate basketball lovers (it's like hockey to Canadians) and they carried their love for the game in here. It's good for MLSE to consider including a Filipino in the line up . The 500,00 Filipinos in Canada. among them nurses, engineers and babysitters , will be glued to their TV sets or will be at Air Canada if that happens.

3. Former Soviet countries. Ubizktan, Kazakhtan etc. Unless they have a basketball Borat in their line up , Nyet . Their players are big but mechanical in their movement. Also , their players are more European looking than Asian .

But why would the Raptors care about getting a Filipino , a Korean or a Middle Eastern players . The Raptors don't even have a Canadian in its roster after all this year . Sigh .

Friday, July 20

B.C. Should Get Busy .

This season , the changes to the Raptors' line up are ho hum so far . Additions to the team are minimal and not as dramatic as last season . Returnee Maceo Baston is a 30 something Anthony Parker clone even in age except less effectve in offense and defense while Jason Kapono is a one dimensional player . And who is Moon ? Maybe B.C. thinks that the Raptors' roster just needs a little tinkering . Wrong . The Atlantic Division is definitely stronger . I watched all 5 games of the Knicks in LA Summer League and was impressed by Isiah's draftee . Collins can certainly play ! What about rookie Big Baby Davis of the Celtics ? Davis is definitely not a deadweight ! I don't have to tell you what the addition of Jamal Magliore and rookie Sean Willians will do to the Nets . The Nets will be tough next season . No more finesse big guy like Nenad K and malnourished Mikki Moore !
So what should B.C. do ? Something earth changing to match that of the AD rivals ? Get Yi Jinlian ! Yes , get the 7'0'' tall Chinese forward from Milwaukee . The Chinese Basketball League will certainly welcome TO as Yi's destination . Toronto is certainly one of the few NBA cities with large Chinese community aside from NY , San Fran and LA . All one has to do is walk the streets of the city to validate this claim . Imagine the economic benefits of that to MLSE . Enough of European ballers . Bring in Asian basketball players , B.C ! An Arab , a Chinese , a Filipino or a Korean. The FIBA Asian Olympic qualifying tournament will be held this month in Tokusyima , Japan . Go East , young man !

Friday, July 13

Kapono An Upgrade From Mo Pete ?

Jason Kapono was officially signed as a Raptor yesterday and assumed Mo Pete's number ( #24). The former UCLA standout was introduced in a press con wherein he said the customary ' I like the city . I like the team . I like the organization . blah , blah blah .' Just say it Jason - I love the money , dammit . $ 24 mil in 4 years ! Chuck Swirsky said in his radio program on the same day that JK truly loves Toronto's weather ! Huh ? Better than sunny California ? Better than Miami's beaches with chicks in bikini environ ? Unless you are one of those who love all 4 seasons , I believe you Jason . TO's seasons is the reason .
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said in his intro that JK is one of those who was 'kicked around' before he found his place in the league. Agree. I think it was his Agent who said years ago in frustration that if Kapono is from some place in Europe , NBA teams will be scrambling all over him . Kapono remains as American as Bart Simpson but BC is all agog over him . Why ? Kapono is a foreign sounding surname ! As Italian as in mojorno , no ? ' He will fit the Raptors' style of play ' he added . Huh ? Shoot 3's but no D style of play ? One hit wonder style of play ? Well , trust B.C. . He knows what he's doing . One TO paper wrote that Kapono may supplant Jorge Garbajosa in the Raptors' starting 5 ! Yeah right . Kaporno to replace the Porno King Garbo ? Meantime , Mo Pete's iron man and more complete style of play is headed to Mormon country or Moron country where a DA just got disbarred for putting his political interest above the rights of some Duke lacrosse players . Well, if this signing does'nt turn out right , B.C. may be in trouble for putting his Italian heritage above Mo Pete's herpes !

Mo Pete : I'm going to Utah 'coz of Hoffa !