Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas was impressive on their FIBA Asia Champions Cup opener with a 73-65 victory against the much taller Kazakhstan team at the the Chenzhou Sports Center in China on Friday.
Kiefer Ravena led team Philippines with a stat line of 22 points, 3 rebounds, two assists and two steals but the limelight was focused on Philippines’ 7-foot-1 naturalized prospect Isaiah Austin who just arrived in Manila last September 12, just in time for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
Austin gave the Philippines the much needed inside presence against the much taller Kazakshtan team as he tallied a double-double with 17 points, 18 rebounds and 6 blocks.
But who is Isaiah Austin and how did he embody the “PUSO” mentality of the team?
Austin was a former standout player at the Baylor University where he averages 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He was a Top NBA prospect but his dream of playing in the NBA was quickly cut short after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in June 2014, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue.
On the 2014 NBA draft night, he was given recognition by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Watch this emotional video below.
In addition to his disorder, Austin is also playing basically with one eye. During his young years, a horrific accident happened to him when he was hit by a baseball in 2005 in his right eye and it got worse when the retina was completely detached when he attempted a dunk a middle school basketball game. That is when his right eye went permanently blind.
But this did not stop him from playing the game that he loves; 2 years later he was medically cleared to play basketball and began considering to play overseas. Last January 2017, he signed his first professional contract with a European club FMP where he averaged 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. Then he July 2017, Austin joined the Guangxi Rhinos of the Chinese National Basketball League.
The Philippine national team took notice and began the process of including Austin in the men’s lineup where he will compete as an import for the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas, that will compete at the 2017 FIBA ASIA Champions Cup in China.
His official Facebook page now also banners the Philippine flag.
Watch the highlights of our newly found naturalized player and the rest of the team on their first game in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup.