PBA: Hiring Paul Harris as import a 'no-brainer' for Phoenix

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2021 05:05 PM

Paul Harris, who previously played for Talk 'N Text and Ginebra, will suit up for Phoenix Super LPG in the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup. File photo. PBA Media Bureau
Paul Harris, who previously played for Talk 'N Text and Ginebra, will suit up for Phoenix Super LPG in the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup. File photo. PBA Media Bureau

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MANILA, Philippines -- For the Phoenix Super LPG management, tapping American Paul Harris as their import for the 2021 PBA Governors Cup was an easy decision to make.

Head coach Topex Robinson said in a recent interview that in choosing their reinforcement, they made sure to choose a high character player -- and the 35-year-old Harris fit the bill.

"When we were scouting for imports, one factor for us is character. That's really huge for us, because … (with) the situation right now is, you cannot afford to replace an import," he said on "Power and Play" last weekend.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing imports has become a complex process. The foreign players had to acquire a special permit from the Philippine government to enter the country, and undergo quarantine before joining their teams. They must also be fully vaccinated. 

Given the circumstances, the Phoenix Super LPG management jumped at the chance to hire Harris, a veteran who has already played in the PBA before.

"Obviously, Paul has been here, he's won championships here, 'yung character niya is really off the charts," Robinson said. "For me, ito 'yung first conference ko to handle an import, and I'm just so blessed to have Paul na super low maintenance import."

"I couldn't ask for more. So again, no brainer for us, when Paul was available," he added.

Harris first played in the PBA in 2011, when he won the Commissioner's Cup with Talk 'N Text. He returned to TNT in 2011 and 2014, and had a brief stint with Barangay Ginebra in 2016 before an injury cut off his time with the Gin Kings. He was replaced by Justin Brownlee.

According to Robinson, Harris was eager for a fifth tour of duty in the PBA.

"One thing we love about Paul, he wants to go here. Ang dami niyang finore-go na opportunities just to be here," the coach revealed. "So 'yun 'yung importante sa amin, because he has friends here, he has family here which he considers his family."

Harris had stints in Turkey and Europe before returning to the PBA, but Robinson has no doubt that the American will have no issues fitting in to their team as well as adjusting to the local basketball scene again.

"Alam niya na kung ano 'yung pupuntahan niya dito," Robinson assured.

Harris will be tasked to lead a Phoenix Super LPG team that is coming off a disappointing campaign in the Philippine Cup, where they missed out on the playoffs after compiling a 4-7 win-loss record. The Fuel Masters actually played the Gin Kings in a knockout game for the last quarterfinals berth, but lost, 95-85.

"Obviously, we struggled in offense," said Robinson of his team, which shot just 39.4% from the field last conference, the third-worst mark in the league. 

"Having an import is gonna be a big key for this coming conference," he added. "The numbers that we missed during the last conference will be pretty much covered by having our import coming in, and knowing what he could contribute to us, hopefully will help us go through this conference."

The Fuel Masters open their campaign in the Governors' Cup against TerraFirma Dyip on Thursday.