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Mar 15, 2017
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Balik-imports and former NBA veterans lead the cast of imports who are hoping to impress PBA fans in the Commissioner's Cup, which starts on Friday.

Two of them have earned adulation for their memorable performances in championship games, two more have been in the NBA for so long, while the rest are either trying to exceed expectations from previous stints in the country or hoping to make a lasting impression in their maiden appearances.

Here's a look at the reinforcements for the PBA's midseason conference:


Wayne Chism
NLEX Road Warriors

Coach Yeng Guiao decided to go with familiarity by signing Chism, his former import at Rain or Shine in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Commissioner's Cup. Chism is an inside-outside player that can fit right in with Guiao's unconventional system. Whether he can be the one that can blend with a team that finished dead-last in the Philippine Cup remains to be seen.


Alex Stephenson
Meralco Bolts

Stephenson is one of five first-time PBA imports in the Commissioner's Cup after having stints with the NBA D-League and two 10-day contracts with the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. Listed at 6'8", Stephenson was a consistent double-double performer in the D-League, something the Bolts needed in last season's Commissioner's Cup when Best Import Arinze Onuaku nearly carried the team to the finals.


James White
Mahindra Floodbuster

The lanky 6-foot-8 White brought presence, versatility and scoring punch to Mahindra in previous campaigns to make the playoffs. White, however, will have a bigger task this time with the Floodbuster finishing just 3-8 in the Philippine Cup after letting go some of his former teammates.


Greg Smith
Blackwater Elite

Hardcore followers of the NBA are very familiar with Smith, who played five seasons, mostly for the Houston Rockets. Blackwater, which fell a win shy of making the Philippine Cup playoffs, is banking on Smith's NBA experience coupled with his athleticism in its bid to reach past the elims.


Shawn Taggart
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

Taggart played just five games for Globalport last year, but his 35-point per game average was enough to convince Rain or Shine to sign the former Memphis Tiger. The Elasto Painters can only hope that Taggart's offense can boost their chances of retaining the Commissioner's Cup crown.


Eugene Phelps
Phoenix Fuel Masters

The man known as "El Destructor" is back for another tour of duty with the Fuel Masters, albeit in a role of standby import. Phoenix was supposed to tap Jarrid Famous but failed to secure a clearance from Globalport, prompting them to call Phelps. The 6'6" impressed everyone in last season's Governors' Cup by scoring 52 points in his debut.

Sean Williams
GlobalPort Batang Pier

Williams is known for playing three seasons with the New Jersey Nets from 2007-2010, before traveling around the world to play different leagues. GlobalPort is his latest stop where the 6-foot-10 seeks to become the rim protector the team hardly needs.


Octavius Ellis
Alaska Aces

The Aces are only Ellis' second professional stint after playing for the Cincinnati Bearcats in the US NCAA. The 6'10" behemoth was a defensive presence during his time at Cincinnati, which seems like a good mix for a team that embraces the defensive philosophy.


Denzel Bowles
TNT KaTropa

How ironic that the KaTropa is going with the man who denied them a championship in the 2012 Commissioner's Cup. Bowles was on the other side when he hit two crucial free throws that sent Game 7 into overtime before nailing key baskets that gave B-Meg the championship. This will be Bowles' fifth PBA run, hoping that his experience can lead TNT to the top.


Tony Mitchell
Star Hotshots

Mitchell appears the most explosive among the batch of imports, as seen in the highlights of his stints with North Texas in the US NCAA and the NBA D-League. His highlight plays earned him a short stint with the Detroit Pistons before arriving in Manila with an eye at providing the scoring punch for the Hotshots.


Justin Brownlee
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel

He will forever be known for his shot that ended Ginebra's eight-year title drought in last year's Governors' Cup. While Brownlee's return was welcomed with open arms, there's doubt about the team's choice of getting the 6'7" hero instead of a bigger reinforcement to fill up the absence of the giant that is Greg Slaughter.


Charles Rhodes
San Miguel Beermen

The veteran of the Korean Basketball League headed south with a chance at giving the Beermen their second straight title following their historic Philippine Cup victory earlier this month. However, the more pressing concern is whether San Miguel can start off strong after their last two Commissioner's Cup campaigns began on the wrong foot. 

 

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