REINFORCEMENTS HAVE ARRIVED. The 2017 Commissioner's Cup imports
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 17, 2017 09:52 AM
Justin Brownlee leads a huge batch of returning PBA imports. Can his magic work for Ginebra a second time?
With the Commissioner's Cup set to open Friday, it means that imports get their time to shine in the PBA.
And for this year's mid-season joust, a number of familiar names are back for another tour of duty in the league.
BRGY. GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL
Despite the Commissioner's Cup featuring no height limit for imports, the Gin Kings opted to have 6'7" Justin Brownlee back for a second conference.
And why not, Brownlee practically handed Ginebra its first PBA title in eight years last season, scoring the winner in Game 6 of the Finals that allowed the Gin Kings to capture the 2016 Governors' Cup.
Mahindra also chose to return a reliable reinforcement this year with James White back for another go for the team that is still technically coached by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Despite still one of the younger imports in the PBA, White is no slouch for the Floodbuster as he led the team to its first-ever playoff appearance in the 2016 Governors' Cup.
PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS
While it's not going to last for the whole conference, the Fuel Masters can expect a good start this conference with "El Destructor" anchoring the Phoenix attack.
Coming in late in the 2016 Governors' Cup to lead the Fuel Masters to their first playoff appearance, Eugene Phelps will provide some much-needed interior presence for Phoenix in the mid-season conference until he has to go and play in Puerto Rico due to an earlier commitment.
NLEX ROAD WARRIORS
Yeng Guiao brought another former Elasto Painter over to NLEX as Wayne Chism is ready to go as the reinforcement for the Road Warriors.
Playing his third PBA conference, the former Best Import should serve as a reliable force for Guiao in NLEX especially since the Road Warriors struggled mightily in coach Yeng's first tournament with the team. Chism is Guiao's trump card when things go wrong for the Commissioner's Cup.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS
With Chism out, defending champion Rain or Shine will be fielding former Globalport import Shawn Taggart in a bid to win back-to-back titles.
The high-scoring 6'10" dynamo should be a nice fit for an Elasto Painters team that is looking to rediscover some of its championship magic.
TNT was originally going to have former rival Denzel Bowles as its reinforcement for the Commissioner's Cup. However, the former Best Import, who denied the franchise of a title in the same conference five years, was dropped one day before the tournament's opening.
Whether it was Bowles having "personal issues" or Denzel actually underperforming and being bad for team chemistry, the KaTropa now scramble to find a replacement for the mid-season tournament.
Opting for a new name, Star will have hotshot Tony Mitchell serving as its import in the Commissioner's Cup.
The former Detroit Piston should be ready to come in and score in bunches for the Hotshots, a nice complement to the team considering Star featured one of the league's best defenses in the Philippine Cup.
SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN
The Beermen took advantage of the no height limit and have brought it Charles Rhodes, forming a twin tower combination with top local June Mar Fajardo.
One of the top shot blockers in the Korean league, Rhodes is expected to anchor San Miguel's defense in is PBA debut, further freeing up space for the Beermen's elite scorers.
The Aces were originally going for Octavius Ellis as their import, however, the cousing of NBA star Monta had to fly back to the United States due to an urgent family matter, causing Alaska to scramble two days before it plays its first game.
Fortunately, Alaska found a replacement by the name of Cory Jefferson. With the sudden development, it should be interesting how the last pick of the 2014 NBA Draft fits in the Alaska system.
Looking to make a bigger impact following a nice All-Filipino campaign, Blackwater has enlisted the services of Greg Smith to man the middle.
A former Houston Rocket, Smith should provide the interior presence no other Elite could give, allowing Blackwater's wingmen, including top pick Mac Belo, to operate more freely on the outside.
Meralco has found success with its last two imports, the Bolts look to contiue that with Alex Stephenson.
The hulking reinforcement should also solve Meralco's issues down the middle, allowing the team's plethora of guards to get creative. Norman Black's crew was one win away from making the Commissioner's Cup Finals last year, the hope is to make it all the way to the title now.
GLOBALPORT BATANG PIER
With a ton of local scoring options, Globalport is looking to play address some more glaring needs and have brought in international journeyman Sean Williams to the fold.
The former New Jersey Net should be a reliable pick-and-roll partner for Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle and as one of the older imports around, Williams could serve as a stabilizer for the Globalport offense that tends to go wild more often than not.