Ayo wants elusive import Vodanovich to stay for good

Vodanovich in action

It’s a case of too-late-the-hero for Converge after it found a gem in import Tom Vodanovich. But the New Zealand reinforcement failed to carry the FiberXers to the next level in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.

Vodanovich played his first and last game of the season coming in as a replacement for Jamaal Franklin. He came up with an impressive debut of 39 points – 23 of them coming in the first half.

Immediately, Converge coach Aldin Ayo suggested to management to make Vodanovich as the team’s resident reinforcement.

“If you checked the stats, he scored 39 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and without a turnover,” Ayo told a group of sportswriters.

“We realized that we can get an import like him, who can set the screen and has an all-out character. But he came in too late.”

Vodanovich has been in the radar of Ayo even before became a PBA coach.

So when the multi-titled collegiate coach was appointed as head mentor of the FiberXers, his first choice as a reinforcement was this guy who played for the national team of the Tall Blacks. 

In his first conference as coach, Ayo contemplated on bringing in Vodanovich, but opted to get National Basketball Association veteran Quincy Miller, instead.

For the season-ending tournament that has a 6-foot-6 height limit for reinforcement, Vodanovich was Converge’s first choice. But he was unavailable due to his contractual obligations with another team in New Zealand.

“We had a window in the Commissioner’s Cup where we can bring him in,” added Ayo. “Although the import limit there was 6-foot-10, I felt that he can be able to hold his own against bigger imports.”

Ayo had experienced handling imports who had given him trouble despite being in the PBA for barely a season. In two conferences, he had to deal with Miller and Franklin.

Miller was benched for one game for coming in late in practice which cost the FiberXers a possible twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs of the Commissioner’s Cup.

In the Governors’ Cup, Franklin, an import who scored two 50-plus points jn a tournament, scored only four points in the FiberXers’ game against Ginebra two weeks ago, which led to the import’s sacking.

“I talked to the management and in front of the team, that if he (Vodanovich) can return, I’m planning to make him our resident import,” added Ayo. “He’s not only performing so well, but our local players can learn from him.”

In choosing a player, character has always been the most important thing for Ayo and it’s not surprising why he has been chasing a player of Vodanovich’s caliber.

“I followed players like him,” added Ayo. “Guys who are fundamentally sound,  He always plays hard, traits that you can see from players who hail from the province. No ifs and buts. Just working hard at every possession. He just wants to play and the good thing about him, he’s a fundamentally sound player.”

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