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Meet The Towering Imports Of The 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup
Three seven-footers, NBA D-League vets, and a legit NBA player—here are the foreign giants who will battle our local hoops stars this conference!
by Neps Firmalan | Jan 26, 2015
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Just a few days after the grueling seven-game basketball/wrestling/taunting battle that was the Philippine Cup Finals (congrats, Beermen!), the PBA gets ready for yet another round of #KampihanPaMore: the 2015 Commissioner's Cup starts tomorrow, fellas!

You know what that means: towering imports will battle it out with local giants, turning the paint into a no (short) man's land. Our vertically-challenged hoopsters will again be wishing they have Yao Ming's genes (or at least Justin Melton's gravity-defying hops). No lengthy in-between-conferences breaks here, and we're not complaining one bit!

So, who are these foreign titans who will be the focal point of this conference's hoops wars? Read on to know what each one will bring to their respective teams and why we're excited to see 'em on the hardcourt!

The 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup starts tomorrow, January 27, at the Mall of Asia Arena. The first game will pit the KIA Carnivals against the Globalport Batang Pier while the second game will feature the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and the Meralco Bolts. The live TV coverage starts at 4:15 p.m. on TV5!

Meralco Bolts

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Physicals: 6'8", 215 lbs
2014-2015 NBA D-League stats: 13.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg

HOLY SH*T, IS THAT KAWHI LEONARD? Nope, that's Joshua Davis, an athletic big man out of San Diego State University who has a knack for getting the boards and the loose balls. We forgive you if you were almost fooled because the resemblance is really uncanny. Cornrows FTW!

Video via Piotr Zarychta

What he can bring to the Bolts: Aside from the much-needed size, Davis has been pegged as a rebounding demon, which is supported by his double-double averages in the NBA D-League. This is certainly good news for Meralco, which averaged less than 45 boards a game (8th in the league) in the Philippine Cup.

At 6'8", he's got the height to play the center spot, but his lean physique also enables him to be fast enough to play the forward slot. Mismatch, anyone? Don't expect Kawhi Leonard-esque shooting though.

Barako Bull Energy

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Physicals: 7'0" 1/2, 250 lbs
2013-2014 Taiwan Super Basketball Lague stats: 13 ppg, 14 rpg, 2.1 bpg

One of three seven-foot imports that will play in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup (an incentive given to the bottom four teams in the PH cup), Alabi is a defensive-minded center who's basically a one-man sampayan brigade, thanks to his stratospheric height and long limbs.

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Video via James Herbert

What he can bring to the Energy: Two words: post defense—something that Barako Bull sorely needs as the team is dead-last in D last conference (they gave up over 95 points a game). Alabi's size allows him to discourage would-be penetratorsthe sight of a towering seven-foot figure has that effect. He's also a former NBA player (he played for the Toronto Raptors for two seasons) so you know he has the capability to put up elite-level defense. Can you say "block party"?


Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters

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Physicals: 6'8", 250 lbs
2014 PBA Commissioner's Cup stats: 19.5 ppg, 18.6 rpg

If you've been religiously watching the PBA for years now, you know that Howell is a damn good rebounder (he grabbed 30 boards in a game against the rugged Aces!), has nice post moves, and provides stone-wall a la Chris Jackson defense on the block.

Video via jhay-ar balaoro

What he can bring to the Texters: The Texters know what they're doing. With Howell manning the post during last year's Commissioner's Cup, TNT made it to the Finals. Although they lost to San Mig Super Coffee, Howell's stats didn't go unnoticed as he went home with the Best Import Award.

Aside from rebounding, inside presence, and post offense, Howell now has added motivation in trying to finally get a PBA championship. This makes him and the whole team more dangerous. The rest of the league has been warned.

NLEX Road Warriors

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Physicals: 6'8", 235 lbs
NBA career stats:
11.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.5 bpg

By far the biggest name in the current import pool, Al Thornton is a legit NBA player who has played for the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, and LA Clippers. His NBA career average in points tells us one thing: He ain't no scrub on offense.

Video via TheWarnyng

What he can bring to the Road Warriors: NBA-caliber offense, first and foremost. He played the forward slot in the NBA and we're expecting him to do the same here (at least in stretches), thanks to Asi Taulava, who's still playing like it's 2005. His height and heft will make it hard for forwards from the other teams to contain him, creating matchup problems.

What we're really interested in, though, is if he can handle the physicality here which is not really NBA-level but more like "This is Sparta!"-level, especially since he'll be the focal point of the opposing team's D.

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Alaska Aces

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Physicals: 6'9", 235 lbs
2013-2014 NCAA stats: 20.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg

He's neither the tallest nor the widest of imports, but DJ Covington certainly has the shot-swatting and rebounding skills, as you can see in his US NCAA averages.

Video via VMI Sports Information

What he can bring to the Aces: The Aces hoped for former Best Import awardee Rob Dozier's return, but that didn't pan out. Enter Covington, who's out to prove he's more than a mere fallback option. The dude was regarded as a top-notch defensive player during his college days and has scoring punch as well.

He's been described as more of a finesse player on offense which shouldn't be a problem for an Alaska squad that already have Abueva, Manuel, Espinas, and Thoss to do the offensive bruising inside. On D though, we expect Mr. Covington to host block parties.

Globalport Batang Pier

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Physicals: 6'9", 205 lbs
2013-2014 NBA D-League stats: 12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg

The lightest import on this list, Leslie is an athletic specimen who can really get up there for rim-rattlers and rebounds.

Video via baekpd

What he can bring to the Batang Pier: He's certainly no Beau Belga in heft, but Leslie more than makes up for that by being quick on his feet, able to run and lead fastbreaks as if he's a wingman. This means he'll fit right in Batang Pier's style of play which is basically run, run, and run some more. Overseas, Leslie guarded power forwards and centers so he has the experience in defending and banging with big players. Yep, looks can be really deceiving.

Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings

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Physicals: 6'9", 250 lbs
2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup stats: 24 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg

Another balik-import, Micheal Dunigan has proven that he's a monster inside the paint. Just take a look at his averages in the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup where he played for the Fedex Express. Impressive!

Video via nbadleague

What he can bring to the Gin Kings: Even more size. Yes, as if having Japeth Aguilar (6'9") and Greg Slaughter (7'0") wasn't enough. With Dunigan, the team now has a triple-tower combination that will make life difficult for opposing bigs. His rebounding prowess, strength, and inside defense makes him a valuable addition to any team. Expect a dunkfest whenever Ginebra plays.

Rain Or Shine Elastopainters

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Physicals: 6'9", 240 lbs
2012-2013 NBA D-League stats: 10.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Averaging a near-double-double in points and rebounds in the NBA D-League, Jackson is a wide-bodied banger who once grabbed a whopping 25 boards in a D-League game.

Video via lebrontheking123

What he can bring to the Elastopainters: Inside presence. Sure, the team has Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan, and Raymond Almazan, but the past few conferences has shown us that they're not enough to stop the likes of June Mar Fajardo and Slaughter. With Jackson, who's been described as a defensive-minded big man, manning the paint, the Elastopainters now has size inside to battle it out with the big teams. Let's see if he'll also learn a few "special" moves from the Extra Rice Inc.

KIA Carnival

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Physicals: 7'3", 290 lbs
NBA D-League career averages: 14.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg

You won't miss Ramos whenever his team is playing because he should be the biggest mofo on the court. We mean, look:

Video via Ousvec

He even makes players from taller, non-PBA teams look short!

What he can bring to the Carnivals: Isn't it obvious? Seriously, Ramos' size will help KIA in the rebounding department where they sucked big time last conference (they averaged a league-worst 43.2 rpg). His height and 290-pound frame should serve as a reminder to opposing players that there's a monster in the paint. He also played in the NBA for the Washington Wizards and is a mainstay of the Puerto Rican national team, which means the big man has more than just height.

Blackwater Elite

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Physicals: 7'1", 225 lbs
2014 Asean Basketball League stats: 20.4 ppg, 14.1 rpg

Another seven-footer in the house! However, Charles doesn't have a Shaq-like frame, but his height alone could be enough to make opposing players do a U-turn when driving to the basket.

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