Former PBA commissioner and SMC sports director Noli Eala slammed the decision of the Magnolia Hotshots to get Rakeem Christmas as a replacement import in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Just a terrible decision for the Magnolia Hotshots to get Christmas as replacement import. Such a huge blunder,” wrote Eala on his Twitter account.
Magnolia coch Chito Victolero had earlier defended the move to replace James Farr with the former NBA player claiming it was a risk that the team was willing to make.
“I know it’s a big risk, but kailangan naming gawin in order for us na magkaroon ng chance dito sa quarterfinals. Kung makalusot man kami sa semis. It was a risk, but worth it naman,” said the one-time PBA champion mentor.
Farr led the Hotshots to a 5-4 record in the elimination round and had decent averages of 21.9 points, 18.11 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks. The last three games, however, ended up in losses which was probably the underlying reason why the team decided to make the switch.
While Christmas was clearly the better player on paper, the 27-year old former Indiana Pacers forward hasn’t played competitive basketball in more than a year. His last stint was on January of 2018 when he signed with the New Zealand Breakers, a team in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL), and submitted averages of 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in 12 games.
The Hotshots lost all three games with Christmas on board and eventually bowed out of the conference after dropping both games to Brgy. Ginebra in the best-of-three quarterfinals.