The Airwaves Plymouth Raiders have signed their third and final foreign player, 6'6" Florentino Valencia, who comes to the Raiders with a reputation for being a hard nosed, aggressive rebounder and athletic and powerful inside player.
Valencia originally hails from Chicago in the USA, but attended Toledo University, graduating in 2007 and moving to play in the Puerto Rican league. He was at Toledo at the same time as former Guildford Heat player Keonta Howell, who Raiders coach Gary Stronach spoke to when considering signing Valencia.
Stronach said, "With Tino's signing I'm happy to have completed my roster for the beginning of the season, he will bring a tough inside game at the offensive end of the floor. Throughout his career he has shot near enough to 60% from the field. He had a good college career at Toledo and was one of the leading players in the PBL last season."
Along with American, Valencia has Puerto Rican nationality, and this undoubtedly helped him when looking for a team out of University. He was drafted in the first round by Cariduros de Fajardo, where he played for a year before moving to Vaqueros de Bayamon in the same league. He then signed to play in the PBL (the Professional Basketball League) in the USA where he played for the Battle Creek Knights, averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 61% from the floor.
Valencia can't wait to get to Plymouth and start training. "I am really looking forward to playing in England, I feel this is a good opportunity to get my career heading in the right direction. I'm happy that the Plymouth organisation feel that I was the right person for the job. I would like to thank the Raiders for choosing me and I will make sure that I will work as hard as I can and give it all I have."
Valencia's first game in the BBL against Worthing will see him match up with another former PBL player, Kadiri Richard, who has moved from the Wilmington Sea Dawgs. Valencia won the scoring battles between the two players in the PBL last season, outscoring Worthing's new signing 22-14 across both games.
The Raiders have now completed their roster for the 2009/10 season and Coach Stronach is eager to get the players into training. "Along with my other 3 new signings (Flato, Horton and Hilleary) I'm looking forward to pre season training and getting them settled into my coaching style and systems. Obviously this will take time but I'm glad to have Allister, James and Jamie to assist in the transition"
Chief Executive Dave Briggs has been busy obtaining the work permits and helping the foreign players obtain their visas. "It's virtually completed now. The Home Office have changed the system of obtaining work permits and visas for players, and it's actually streamlined the whole process and made it a lot quicker. There are a few more things for the players to do in the USA once the work permit has been granted, but the paperwork has now all been sent to the various consulates and we should hear back from them regarding the visas very soon."