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Paul Harris off to Philippines

In the back of his mind, Paul Harris knew this day would come. Financially, it made sense. At some point, he'd need to take his game overseas to provide for his sons.

So after 22 games with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League, the former Niagara Falls star is on the move again. This weekend, Harris will make the 20-hour plane ride to play for the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters of the Philippine Basketball Association.

"It's a great opportunity for me to make a little money, for one," Harris said. "Two, I might like it over there. It'll be something different."

It's been an up-and-down ride for Harris since he left Syracuse a year early. He wasn't drafted and then suffered a severe ankle injury in the Utah Jazz's training camp. Harris rehabbed, joined the Red Claws and recorded four double-doubles in his first six games.

As the season progressed, though, Harris' playing time dwindled. He finishes with 10.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Through it all, Talk 'N Text kept an eye on him. Harris spoke with a team scout, the head coach, the owner and decided this was the best move. For once, Harris' lack of height worked in his favor. Each team in the PBA is allowed to have one American who's 6-foot-4 or shorter without shoes on. Harris just made the cut. With the new season starting in February, he expects to play 44-48 minutes a game.

Talk 'N Text is a run-first team. The coach told Harris he demands his players to get the ball upcourt in three seconds.

"They said I'll probably lose about 15 pounds by the time the season's over," Harris said with a chuckle.

Financially, Harris didn't want to get into specifics but his check will be substantially more. His contract runs through one PBA season.

e-mail: tdunne@buffnews.com

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