A veteran World Cup campaigner who played for the New Zealand men’s basketball team will serve as the import of Converge in the coming Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
Ethan Rusbatch, a swingman who saw action for the Tall Blacks team in the 2019 World Cup in China, arrived recently to power the FiberXers squad that made a solid run in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup.
Converge ended up fourth in the elimination round, but lost in a best-of-three quarterfinals series to defending champion San Miguel Beer.
Under coach Aldin Ayo, the FiberXers want to take it to the next level and a big part of that lies on the shoulders of Rusbatch, who previously played for the Hawke’s Bay Hawks and averaged 17.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
Listed at 6-foot-5, Rusbatch played five games in the 2019 World Cup and averaged 3.6 points per game.
Four years ago, he was named the New Zealand National Basketball League’s Most Improved Player, averaging 20.3 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Rusbatch is no stranger to Philippine basketball as he played for the Kiwis when they went up against Gilas Pilipinas in the first window of the FIBA Wolrd Cup Asian Qualifiers, which were both won convincingly by New Zealand.
Against the Philippines, Rusbatch averaged 11 points, 3.5 rebounds and an efficiency rating of +22.
Rusbatch emerged as New Zealand’s top scorer, best three-point shooter and played with the most minutes among the members of the Tall Blacks.
But his skill set, particularly on defense, will be tested by Ayo once he plays for Converge.
Rusbatch will join forces with a young FiberXers’ team anchored on Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter and Aljun Melecio, all of them played for Ayo when they were together with De La Salle University in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines.
The FiberXers also have prized rookie Justin Arana, hardworking Aleck Stockton and new recruits, Barkley Ebona, whom it acquired in a trade with Blackwater, and Jerrick Balanza, whom it netted in a separate deal with NorthPort.