San Miguel Beer’s plans to field the import with the shiniest credentials in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup were thrown awry by an ill-timed back injury.
The Beermen are hoping Diamond Stone will just be as useful as they gun for the second Grand Slam gem.
The 25-year-old well-traveled center will replace the highly-touted Thomas Robinson, the former third pick overall in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who, according to reports, is dealing with a back problem.
“Thomas is injured and his injury is not playable,” Beermen team manager Gee Abanilla told the Inquirer in a short message on Tuesday, just a few hours after a league update that said San Miguel’s original choice has been put on the injured/reserved list.
A league insider said Stone is expected to be measured on Wednesday, to make sure he fits into the league ceiling of 6 feet and 10 inches for imports.
The last-minute change won’t have Stone flying in blind, though, as he is a bit familiar with the Filipino brand of basketball. Stone, who has had stints in the NBA and other international leagues, played against the Philippine youth team in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) U-17 World Championship in 2014.
He also backstopped an Allen Durham-led Meralco side in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup four years ago.
Stone, during that time with the Bolts, provided a snapshot of what he is capable of, averaging 23.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists throughout that tournament.
He last saw action in the T1 League in Taiwan, suiting up for the TaiwanBeer HeroBears.
The Beermen were the last crowned kings of the Commissioner’s Cup before it was shelved due to the coronavirus outbreak in the summer of 2020. INQ
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