The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rechristened its import-laden conferences, the Commissioner's and Governors' Cup, in 1993. The former featured reinforcements with a taller ceiling, while the latter limited their size to anywhere between 6'5" and 6'6".
These tournaments, however, were shelved from 2004 to 2010 when the two-conference setup, a tweak in the PBA formula, was introduced by then Commissioner Noli Eala. In 2011, the Commissioner's and Governors' Cup were revived.
As the local professional basketball league is about to kick off its final conference of its 2016-17 season on July 19, FHM ranked the 10 greatest imports ever to leave a mark in the PBA Governors' Cup.
10. Anthony Grundy (Petron Blaze Boosters)
Grundy was responsible for giving Petron the 2011 trophy, and consequently denying corporate rival, the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters, a Grand Slam. The Blaze Boosters slammed the door on TNT, 4-3, in the Finals.
9. Kenny Travis (San Miguel Beermen)
SMB's resident import in the early '90s, during the Norman Black era, first played for the 1988 Purefoods TJ Hotdogs during its maiden PBA season. Travis was the first ever recipient of the Best Governors' Cup Import award. He steered the Beermen to a decisive 4-1 Finals victory against the Tony Harris-led Swift Mighty Meaties.
8. Justin Brownlee (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
This replacement for original Gin Kings import, Paul Harris, may have lost the Best Import award to Allen Durham of the Meralco Bolts. But the current Tim Cone favorite had the last laugh as his Game 6 buzzer-beater helped to scoop out the Barangay in the proverbial kangkungan, winning its first title in eight years. If the returning hero successfully defends the title, he'll crack Top 5 easily.
7. Silas Mills (Mobiline Phone Pals)
The fiery, temperamental cager was one of the most impressive ones in the 1998 tournament, teaming up with Tee McClary to give the Phone Pals runner-up honors behind the Formula Shell Zoom Masters. The eventual Best Import was known for his silky and velvety moves when attacking the paint. He was later brought in by Ginebra but didn't do as well.
6. Jamelle Cornley (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
This muscle man was instrumental in bringing home the franchise's first PBA title in 2012. With Cornley providing the interior strength that they sorely needed, the Elasto Painters survived the B-Meg Llamados in seven games. The tenacious rebounder jibed with Coach Yeng's run-and-gun system perfectly. Too bad Cornley was unable to return after getting into trouble with authorities a year after.
5. Derrick Brown (Purefoods TJ Hotdogs)
He carried the Hotdogs to the Promised Land in 2002, averaging close to 32 ppg in the Finals to nip the Aces in seven games. Brown was a do-it-all import, an offensive juggernaut heavily relied upon by then coach Ryan Gregorio to hound opposing import James Head. Brown is one of only two reinforcements to have won the Governors' Cup Best Import award twice, the other one being...
4. Arizona Reid (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
The spectacular AZ Reid first came into the scene in 2011, leading Rain or Shine's march into the Final Four. He came back two more times for the same team, before San Miguel secured his services in 2015. He captured his first and only PBA title when he powered the Beermen to a 4-0 sweep against Alaska.
3. Marqus Blakely (Star Hotshots)
There’s a reason Blakely had been the Hotshots’ resident import from 2011 up to last season: he was both a offensive monster and an intimidating defensive presence. Blakely, who helped the franchise win the Grandslam in 2014, was recognized as the Governors’ Cup Best Import in 2013. He has won two conference titles. If Star import Cinmeon Bowers fails to meet the grade, don’t be surprised if Blakely is recalled for another tour of duty.
2. Lamont Strothers (San Miguel Beermen)
He's one of the most memorable PBA imports of all time. Period. A regular fixture in the San Miguel lineup during the Ron Jacobs era, Strothers (aka The Helicopter) not only had a stand out game, but also the attitude that endeared him to PBA fans. Sleek and streaky, Strothers was a threat inside and out, but was well-loved for his acrobatic yet balletic drives to the hoop. The 1999 Best Import awardee powered the Beermen to back-to-back Governors' Cup titles in 1999 and 2000. Strothers retired from active ball thereafter due to injuries.
1. Sean Chambers (Alaska Aces)
Sean Chambers ruled the mid-'90s with the vaunted Alaska team, copping four consecutive Governors' Cup titles from 1994 to 1997. This is why the one-time Best Import winner and the second recipient of the PBA's Mr. 100 Percent Performance award is the most dominant Governors' Cup import of all time. Hard to find another phenomenal winner like this multi-titled gem.
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