GINEBRA PINS HOPES ON WILSON
(from the Philippine Star by Joaquin Henson)
Manila, Oct. 24, 1999 Monty Lamont Wilson planed in from Chicago via San Francisco quietly Wednesday morning and could've played for winless Barangay Ginebra against Alaska in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors Cup at the PhilSports Arena that night.
But playing coach Allan Caidic decided to rest the 6-4, 200-pound hotshot from Tennessee State until Ginebra's game against Mobiline today. After Mobiline, Ginebra plays Sta. Lucia Realty on Oct. 31 and Pop Cola on Nov. 7 to close out its single-round elimination schedule.
Only one team won't make it to the quarterfinals and Caidic isn't relishing the thought of an early Christmas vacation. Toting a 0-5 record, Ginebra is under pressure to bolt out of the PBA cellar. Caidic is pinning his hopes on Wilson who's taking over from Mario Donaldson.
Wilson, 26, showed up for light practice in the gym a few hours after he flew in. Caidic was impressed. The muscular sweet-shooting native of Decatur, Illinois, reminded Caidic of trackster Ben Johnson's sculpted physique.
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Although Wilson has arrived, Donaldson won't be leaving town yet. He was placed in the injured reserve list and could be reactivated after five games or only if Ginebra qualifies for the semis. Donaldson is suffering from a chronic meniscus pain in the knee.
"Mario's a gentleman on and off the court -- a real pro," said Caidic. "It's too bad his style doesn't fit what we need for our team." Donaldson turned out to be strictly a non-physical perimeter player.
Donaldson was told of his fate after Ginebra's loss to Alaska last Wednesday. He said he expected the news earlier and thanked Ginebra for giving him the chance to play.
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Wilson could be just what the doctor ordered for Ginebra. His college coach Frankie Allen described him as "a complete player, an outstanding shooter with great work habits, (and) a good rebounder (who) plays good defense."
Throughout his 94-game career at Tennessee State, Wilson was an impact player. As a freshman in 1992-93, he averaged 13.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. He was the Most Valuable Player in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) tournament and was voted Freshman of the Year. Wilson led the varsity Tigers to the OVC title, scoring 18 points against Tennessee Tech, starring John Best, in the semis and 17 against Murray State in the finals.
Wilson played only four games as a sophomore in 1993-94 because of a wrist injury and was listed as a medical redshirt. He was allowed to play another year of varsity eligibility due to the injury. In 1994-95, Wilson bounced back to average 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. He shot 43.7 percent from the field, 35.8 percent from 3-point range, and 78.4 percent from the line. Wilson shot in twin digits in 24 of 26 games.
As a junior in 1995-96, he hit at a 19.6 clip and grabbed seven rebounds an outing. Wilson fired double figures in 25 of 27 games, netted 33 points against Wisconsin-Parkside, and posted 15 rebounds and seven assists in a loss to Colorado.
In 1996-97, Wilson sat out 19 games but still averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. He tallied 23 points in the season opener against Old Dominion then suffered a fractured cheekbone on a flagrant foul in his next game against Central Michigan. Wilson was sidelined for two months then returned to score 24 points, including 4-of-5 treys, and snare nine rebounds in a win over Tennessee Tech to earn OVC Player of the Week honors.
Wilson wound up his varsity career as Tennessee State's seventh all-time leading scorer with 1,594 points and all-time leader in 3-point conversions at 214.
Wilson made his mark in the NCAA as a small forward and big guard. What's remarkable is despite his height and position, Wilson was a terror off the boards. And not only was he a scorching scorer, Wilson was also a tough in-your-face defender. Allen once remarked that Wilson entered the varsity with shaky defensive fundamentals but later matured to become his No. 1 stopper.
From the collegiate ranks, Wilson played as an import in Peru and Argentina.
Whether Wilson can break Ginebra's slump is the big question. Dating back to the Commissioner's Cup, Ginebra has lost 11 of its last 13 games. Wilson, of course, can't do it all. He'll need support from Caidic's locals. But he's got to show the way or else it'll be a sad Christmas for Barangay Ginebra.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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