Bataan Risers beef up frontline for title push

Bataan Risers beef up frontline for title push

MANILA, Philippines – The Bataan Risers announced the addition of Michael Calisaan, Barkley Eboña and Richard Escoto to their roster for activation come November.

The North Division-leading 10-1 Risers just crushed the Bulacan Kuyas, 63-49, and are looking to shore up their frontline for a title push in the ongoing Datu Cup of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. The home win at the People’s Center in Bataan was the Risers’ 10th consecutive triumph after losing the season opener.

“The new guys will give us more defense and rebounds although they can score too if needed especially Michael and Richard,” bared Bataan head coach Jojo Lastimosa. “Barkley will give us inside defense, extra hustle and extra hustle and possession. I just hope that chemistry-wise, it wouldn’t be hard for them to get into our scheme of things.”

Calisaan just concluded his final NCAA season with the San Sebastian Stags that finished 6-12; sixth in the league. The Stags forfeited two wins when Calisaan’s teammate RK Ilagan was found to have played in an outside league concurrent to the NCAA and was suspended for the remainder of the first round. Had Ilagan played, San Sebastian could have bettered figured for a Final Four slot.

In his final game for San Sebastian — a 91-63 win over the Arellano University Chiefs — Calisaan tallied 24 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block. In close to 30 minutes per game for the Stags, Calisaan averaged 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals, placing him ninth in the NCAA in terms of overall statistics.

Stags head coach Edgar Macaraya raved about his do-it-all forward and what he meant to San Sebastian: “Michael personified our team’s courage. He was consistently a double double player who always played bigger than his size. Iba ang puso niya. He will be an asset to any he professional team he plays for.”

Eboña and Escoto, for their part, are in the midst of Far Eastern University’s push for a second UAAP title in the past four years. The duo provide a lot of muscle for the 5-4 Tamaraws.

The 6’5” Eboña was named after NBA great Charles Barkley won a UAAP title in 2015 alongside Escoto.

Barkley is currently norming 4.0 points and 4.4 rebounds for FEU.

The 6’4” Escoto, younger brother of Russell Escoto, will add another active body to the Risers forward line. Richard is fifth on the Tamaraws stat sheet where as a frequent starter for Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela, he is averaging 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20 minutes of play.

Eboña and Escoto will be reunited with their former college teammate Achie Iñigo; somewhat helping in the transition and chemistry.

“I am a firm believer in chemistry over talent,” summed up Lastimosa. “If I can have both then that is great for the Bataan Risers.”

The addition of Calisaan, Eboña and Escoto will firm up Bataan’s rotation that currently includes Jeepy Faundo, Alfred Batino, Gio Espuelas, Bernie Bregondo and Christian Capuli.