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Which 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup Import Will Lead His Team To Glory?

There's no doubting the contributions of these big time reinforcements
by Nate Toledo | Apr 21, 2018
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The PBA returns from more than a two-week break this weekend with the Commissioner's Cup parading imports 6'10" and under who are hoping to meet the high expectations of their respective teams and fans.

Seven first-timers and five (or six?) returnees compose the roster of foreigners for the season's second conference that will see the San Miguel Beermen continue their chase for more championships and a possible Grand Slam that eluded them last season.

FHM takes a look at these imports seeking to dazzle local fans.

CJ Aiken (Columbian Dyip)

Aiken faces a tough task to lift the team formerly known as Kia Picanto, which was coming off a dismal 1-10 record in the Philippine Cup.

The 27-year-old played three NCAA seasons with Saint Joseph's, earning the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012. He spent most of his pro career in the NBA D-League for the Erie Bayhawks, before suiting up for the Wilki Morskie Szczecin in Poland, and the Niagara River Lions in Canada.

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Jarrid Famous (Blackwater Elite)

Famous, 29, will be in his third PBA stint, having played for Meralco in 2012 and GlobalPort in 2015. He also had a brief run with San Miguel in the 2012 ASEAN Basketball League.

Since grabbing 37 rebounds in one game for the Batang Pier, Famous essentially became a basketball journeyman—with the Fujian Sturgeons (China), Hekmeh (Lebanon), Al Muharraq (Bahrain), Bucaneros de La Guaira (Venezuela), Maccabi Haifa (Israel), Al Naser Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Caciques de Humacao and Gallitos de Isabela (Puerto Rico), and Gimnasia y Esgrima de Comodoro Rivadavia (Argentina).

Arinze Onuaku (Meralco Bolts)

Onuaku is expected to make things difficult for rival opponents, two years after winning Best Import for leading Meralco to the semifinals of the Commissioner's Cup.

After his first merry-go-round with the Bolts, he played briefly for the Orlando Magic, before going to China to play for Hunan and the Zheijiang Golden Bulls. The 30-year-old hopes to continue the team's string of success in the import-laden tournaments.

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James White (Phoenix Fuel Masters)

One of the youngest imports of the conference will actually be making his third PBA appearance, this time in hopes of returning to the playoffs under a more-talented squad at Phoenix.

White's first two stops were with the Mahindra Floodbuster, one of Columbian's old names, resulting in contrasting fortunes. He steered Mahindra to its first postseason trip in the 2016 Governors' Cup but lasted just four games for the Floodbuster in last season's Commissioner's Cup.

Jeremy Tyler (TNT KaTropa)

Tyler, 26, has played professional ball since 2009, including NBA stints with the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks. He also played three years in China, before suiting up for the Sydney Kings in the recent National Basketball League season (Australia).

TNT is banking on Tyler to fill the void left by burly Joshua Smith, who helped them reach the Commissioner's Cup Finals last season, only to lose to the Beermen in six games.

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Malcolm White (GlobalPort Batang Pier)

White hopes to have a longer stay with the Batang Pier after playing just five games in last season's Commissioner's Cup. He came in to take over from original import Sean Williams, but was later replaced by Malcolm Harper late in the conference.

The 29-year-old, who played college ball at Louisiana State University and Ole Miss, has had stints in Canada, Puerto Rico, Bahrain, Uruguay, and Qatar.


Antonio Campbell (Alaska Aces)

The PBA will mark the first overseas stint of the 23-year-old Campbell, who, according to coach Alex Compton, came to the country 50 pounds less than his listed weight of 260.

Highly recruited by Alaska great Sean Chambers, Campbell was the 2016 MAC Player of the Year for Ohio University after averaging 17.5 points and 10 rebounds. He was also a member of the Lakeland Magic in the recent NBA G-League season.

Reggie Johnson (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)

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Johnson, who weighs almost 300 lbs, will make his first local tour after playing in the ASEAN Basketball League for the Westports Malaysia Dragons in 2016, and Thailand's Mono Vampire earlier this season.

The 28-year-old was a key figure of the Malaysia squad that won the ABL crown two years ago with a roster that included PBA sophomore Matthew Wright, Fil-American guard Jason Brickman, and coach Ariel Vanguardia.

Adrian Forbes (NLEX Road Warriors)

NLEX was supposed to have Arnett Moultrie for the start of the conference, but problems with his team in Bahrain prompted coach Yeng Guiao to tap Forbes, a 29-year-old native of Jamaica.

Forbes, described as a defensive presence, played for Auburn in the NCAA from 2010 to 2012, before taking his chances in Japan, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. He also represented Jamaica in the 2009 and 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.

Charles Garcia (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)

Ginebra was likewise forced to make a last-minute change before the start of the tournament, hiring Garcia in lieu of former Alaska import Shane Edwards, as it tries to make up for Greg Slaughter (ankle injury).

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Garcia has multiple international stints since finishing his college career with Seattle University in 2009—four NBA D-League appearances for the Utah Flash, Iowa Energy, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and Austin Spurs. He is likely to play a few games before the arrival of...

Justin Brownlee (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)

Barring any change of heart by coach Tim Cone, Brownlee is expected to take charge once he completes his stint with Alab Pilipinas in the ABL.

Brownlee's previous stints with Ginebra are well-documented, but his current run has seen him team up with Renaldo Balkman and lead Alab to an impressive turnaround from a 0-3 start to the Finals.

Vernon Macklin (Magnolia Hotshots)

Ginebra fans certainly know Macklin from his time in the 2013 Commissioner's Cup when the Kings recovered from finishing seventh in the eliminations to making the big dance. This time, the 31-year-old will try to help Magnolia keep its winning ways after a runner-up finish in the Philippine Cup.

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Since his first PBA run, Macklin has had experience with the Liaoning Flying Leopards in China, Al Jaysh of Qatar, and Goyang Orion Orions in South Korea.

Troy Gillenwater (San Miguel Beermen)

The Beermen are banking on Gillenwater to continue their dominance in the league despite speculations of having Balkman or Charles Rhodes, who helped them win last season's Commissioner's Cup, suit up for the tournament.

Gillenwater was a member of the Mighty Sports team that won the 2016 William Jones Cup, featuring five more foreign players. He also had stops in South Korea, Greece, Russia, Japan, and Turkey. If he is indeed the right fit, San Miguel may not need entertaining thoughts of fielding either Balkman or Rhodes late in the conference.


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