MANILA, February 19, 2004  (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Another Michael Jordan backup may show his wares in the coming Fiesta Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association beginning Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Former Washington Wizard Tyrone Nesby is being eyed by Barangay Ginebra for the conference although he has yet to complete his commitment in a pro league in Italy.

With Nesby playing out his stint in the Italian league, the Gin Kings, in the meantime, have decided to bring in old import Rossell Elis who is to arrive from the United States today.

Ellis is Ginebra’s last-minute replacement for Bingo Merriex who couldn’t make it to the local league due to immigration problems in Lebanon. Ellis and the Kings collide with the Shell Turbochargers in the tournament kick-off game.

Nesby, 28, was among Jordan’s relievers at Washington, averaging 6.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 70 games in the 2001-2002 NBA season. He would be the second backup for his Airness expected to play here after Scott Burrell, a former Chicago Bull in the Jordan era, who suited up for Red Bull Barako last year.

The Cairo, Illinois native was not drafted in the NBA after a stint with University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) under coach Bill Bayno, but made waves with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the CBA to get a ticket to the major league.

He was signed up by the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent in 1999 and immediately made an impact, averaging 10.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in his NBA rookie year. He emerged as LAC’s fourth best scorer after Maurice Taylor (16.8), Lamond Murray (12.2) and Eric Piatkowski (10.5).

His game and numbers improved the following year, and this didn’t escape the eyes of Washington officials who worked a trade deal to get him in the middle of the 2000-2001 season. Washington dealt Cherokee Parks and Obinna Ekezie for Nesby.

Nesby played 255 games in four seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

At UNLV, Nesby averaged 16 points and six rebounds in two seasons. Before joining the Running Rebels, he played with Vincennes in junior college ball.

Other imports who are likely to suit up in midstream in the Fiesta Cup are veteran PBA campaigners Tony Lang and Ron Hale who are still deep in action in the Japanese league.

Aside from Ellis, San Miguel’s Art Long and Purefoods’ Lenny Cooke are the only returning imports in the current field.

New names invading the league are FedEx’s Alvin Jefferson, Alaska’s Galen Young, Coca-Cola’s Mark Sanford, Red Bull Barako’s Carlos Willer, Talk n Text’s Randy Holcomb, Sta. Lucia’s Lamayn Wilson and Shell’s Marek Ondera.

Jefferson is the tallest at 6-foot-7 3/8 while Young the smallest of the new crop at 6-4 1/8. Sanford and Long were both measured at 6-7 1/4, Willer 6-6 1/8, Holcomb 6-6 1/4, Wilson 6-6 flat, Ondera 6-5 1/2 and Cooke 6-5 1/8.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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