ISAIAH Austin’s Philippines adventure got off to an ideal start as he made a big contribution on both ends of the floor to help Chooks-to-Go to victory over BC Astana.
Chooks-to-Go, representing Philippines at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China, got their campaign off to a positive start with a 73-65 win over the Kazakhstan team.
Austin, viewed as a potential replacement for Andray Blatche as Gilas’ naturalised player, lived up to his billing with 17 points, 18 rebounds and an outrageous six blocks.
The 23-year-old – a projected NBA first-round pick in 2014 before being diagnosed with a genetic heart disorder – was cleared to play earlier this year.
He is looking to rebuild his career in the Philippines – and has even been discussed in terms of one day fulfilling his NBA dream.
For now, he is eager to make a positive impressive for Chooks-to-Go in China – and has set the tone to achieve that with a fine opening performance.
The American only hit 33.3 percent of his field goals but was a colossus in defence, grabbing 17 of his 18 boards in defence.
Chooks-to-Go trailed 40-29 at one stage – but closed out the game comfortably enough, Kiefer Ravena scoring 22 points.
In the other matches on the opening day of competition at Chenzhou Olympic Sports Centre, China Kashgar – also known as Xinjiang Flying Tigers – beat Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai 96-43.
Dacin Tigers, of Taiwan, beat India’s ONGC 94-62, while Thailand’s Mono Vampire beat Sareyyet Ramallah of Palestine 102-100 in a thriller.