Strong Group Athletics American Players for 2024 Jones Cup

Embracing ‘Puso’ Basketball: American Trio Brings Star Power to SGA for Jones Cup Quest

Strong Group Athletics is aiming for another Jones Cup title this year, and this American trio is bringing unique experiences to the mix.

Strong Group Athletics (SGA) has bolstered its roster for the upcoming William Jones Cup with three American players expected to complement the team’s Filipino stars.

Chris McCullough, DJ Fenner, and Tajuan Agee bring a mix of NBA experience, international play, and raw talent to SGA as they prepare to represent the Philippines in the prestigious tournament.

Donning the national colors

Former NBA first-round draft pick Chris McCullough headlines the American contingent as the 29-year-old forward, who previously led San Miguel Beermen to a PBA championship, is thrilled to finally wear the Philippine colors in an international competition.

McCullough’s familiarity with Philippine basketball from his PBA stint should help him adapt quickly to SGA’s system. His versatility and scoring ability are expected to complement local stars like Kiefer Ravena and Dave Ildefonso.

“I like Filipino basketball in general. It’s Americanized so it’s good basketball,” McCullough told The GAME.

Fresh faces ready to make an impact

While McCullough brings star power and PBA experience, SGA has also added two promising talents to round out their roster. Joining McCullough are Filipino-American winger DJ Fenner and American big man Tajuan Agee. Both players are expected to bring valuable experience and skills to the team.

Fenner, who has played professionally in Europe, should provide additional perimeter scoring and defense. For him, representing the Philippines holds special significance.

“It’s an honor, honestly,” he said. “Ever since I was younger, I’ve always heard about the Philippines. My lolo would leave for the Philippines and come back and bring me gifts. And being out here and meeting with family and being able to put this uniform on is a blessing.”

DJ Fenner showing his skills during practice with the Strong Group Athletics team
DJ Fenner showing his skills during practice with the SGA squad. (Photo credit: SGA on Facebook)

His extensive international experience could also prove invaluable for SGA, having played for the Heroes Den Bosch at the BNXT League just this year. “Just having played with a lot of different players from all over the world. I think it really helps with the chemistry aspect and being able to kind of communicate with the guys and work together in order to achieve a goal,” he explained.

Agee, a 6’9″ forward, will likely be tasked with protecting the paint and battling for rebounds against international competition. He sees his role as a leader by example, particularly on the defensive end.

“I gotta lead by example. I think we got a lot of vocal leaders out here, which is great. But I think I’m a guy who can really lead by example, especially on the defensive end. With energy and making plays that we may really need.”

Adapting to ‘puso’ style of basketball

SGA head coach Charles Tiu believes the American players will mesh well with the team’s Filipino core, which includes standouts like Ravena, Ange Kouame, and RJ Abarrientos.

Chris echoed this sentiment, praising the team’s chemistry and its adaptability to adjust to his style of play. “I think I fit well here. Playing with the Filipinos. Most of them know how I play because they watched me play in the past. So, it’s easy to play out here,” he shared.

DJ is also particularly impressed with the Filipino style of play, saying, “It’s awesome. I think the first thing that comes to mind is the energy in the gym.

“It’s like everybody talking with each other. And the energy, it seems more akin to like an NBA style. And that makes sense because I feel like a lot of guys here try to emulate a lot of NBA players. But definitely the energy and the aggression and speed of play,” he observed.

As SGA prepares for the Jones Cup, the integration of McCullough, Fenner, and Agee with the local stars will be crucial to the team’s success.

Their combination of international experience and adaptability to Filipino basketball could be the key to bringing the Jones Cup title back to the Philippines.

Banner images from SGA on Facebook, and DJ Fenner and Tajuan Agee on Instagram.

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