Zamboanga Valientes waged a recruiting coup as it tapped a two-time National Basketball Association champion as reinforcement in the ASEAN Basketball League Invitational 2023.
Valientes team owner Junnie Navarro announced that they have signed Mario Chalmers as import, saying that his skills, experience and leadership will be a major boost to their campaign in the prestigious regional league.
The 36-year-old Chalmers is definitely a prized catch.
Taken with the 34th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008, the former Kansas gunner served as a rotation player for the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies from 2008 to 2018.
He won two titles for the Heat squad that was bannered by the powerhouse core of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh under Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra.
He averaged 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his 10-year stay in the NBA.
After his NBA stint, Chalmers played in Greece and Puerto Rico before returning to the United States to join the Grand Rapid Golds and the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA G League last year.
“He has the leadership and experience. Just imagine, a dream-come-true for every Filipino basketball player and every Zamboangeño to be his teammate,” Navarro said.
“We want to be in the top four and we want to dedicate it to our compatriots in Zamboanga.”
Chalmers will be joining a solid Valientes side that features James Kwekuteye, John Amores, Ryan Smith and former Philippine Basketball Association import Antonio Hester.
Navarro said hiring an elite talent like Chalmers sends a strong statement that the Valientes are also capable of making the country proud, similar to Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and Eumir Marcial as well as Magnolia Hotshots playmaker Mark Barroca.
“We all know Eumir, Hidilyn and Mark Barroca are from Zamboanga,” he said.
“The organization is really serious to win.”
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