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Magnolia Hotshots tap ex-Jazz

Erik McCree was supposed to serve as Kiefer Ravena’s teammate with the Shiga Lakestars in the Japan B. League.

But negotiations bogged down so he packed his bags for Manila to reinforce Magnolia in the Governors’ Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association.

Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero made the confirmation, stressing that they are lucky to land an all-around player in McCree.

“He was supposed to play in the B. League and team up with Kiefer Ravena. But it didn’t push through,” Victolero said.

“On our end, we saw some of the highlights and full games sent by his agent and were impressed.”

“He can play inside and out and we feel that he is a good fit to our system.”

The 29-year-old McCree is a legitimate journeyman who played for the Utah Jazz in the National Basketball Association four years ago before spending the past few seasons in Europe.

Last year, he played in Greece, where he averaged 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds for Peristeri after playing for the Jazz’s G League affiliate in the Salt Lake City Stars.

He is tipped to provide tremendous help to Magnolia.

In the past two import-laden conferences, the Hotshots were able to reach the playoffs and came very close to making it to the championship round.

In fact, they were looking good in the Governors’ Cup last year but their import in Mike Harris got hurt in Game 5 of their best-of-five semifinal series against Meralco.

Just recently, the Hotshots posted the second-best record in the eliminations and were able to reach the semifinals with a young but inexperienced Nick Rakocevic as import.

But they fell prey to the seasoned Barangay Ginebra San Miguel side in the playoffs, denying them the chance to meet guest team Bay Area in the finals.

Victolero offered no excuse, knowing that injuries played a key role to their downfall.

Now, he’s hoping that McCree can carry them all the way to the title.

“What we’ve seen are just highlights. We cannot tell at this time the team’s future with our new import,” Victolero said.

“We’ve seen many times how imports, even NBA veterans, having trouble with the PBA brand of game.”

“Justin Brownlee never made it to the NBA but is considered the gold standard among imports in the PBA. So we can only tell our future with Erik McCree once he starts playing for us.”

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