TNT KaTropa's surprising Game 1 victory over favored San Miguel Beermen, 104-102, gave several insights on how to win championships. Last year, then Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao provided the formula to beat the formidable Beermen—have an imposing presence inside to guard three-time defending MVP June Mar Fajardo one-on-one, and you get half the job done.
This season, TNT brought in the man mountain Joshua Smith and hasn't lost except twice since suiting up. Can the resurgent KaTropa go all the way to reclaim the Commissioner's Cup it last won in 2015? The major barometer would be the 350-pound "Jumbotron" and his health as his hefty presence alone is enough to sow terror in SMB's offensive schemes.
FHM lists down the best and the burliest imports ever to play in the PBA. While small ball may have had success as evidenced by the Golden State Warriors' 2015 and 2017 NBA championships or Gilas Pilipinas' back-to-back runner-up finishes in the FIBA Asia, local basketball remains to be a game for the tall and powerful.
An import who has come back multiple times to play for different teams, Wise was built like a halfback for a pro football team. He was 230 lbs of pure muscle built around his 6'6 frame. When he posted up, it was easy for him to seal his opponent, giving him an easy route to the basket. It's no surprise that after his first stint with the U/Tex Wranglers in the 1981 Open Conference, he has suited up for other teams like Tanduay in 1983, Manila Beer in 1985, and Alaska (Hills Bros) in 1987.
Controversy hounded Gray's entry to the PBA as Añejo Rum's import in the 1990 Open Conference. The height limit for imports was 6'5", and many felt Gray was at least 6'6" and around 240 lbs. The 6'5" Abet Guidaben was seen on TV standing beside Gray and gesturing the stark difference in their height. There was reason for the concern—Gray was a monster inside the paint, addressing the team's perennial weakness inside. When Gray barreled his way inside, everyone stepped aside.
Rain or Shine struggled finding the right import in last year's Commissioner's Cup and ended up with the 6'8", 300-pound Niles. He wasn't as skilled as Wayne Chism, as prolific as Antoine Wright, or as athletic as Mo Charlo, ROS' imports before him, but no one was as big as him. He was actually slow and lacked offensive skills, but made up for it by simply using up so much keyhole space. Junemar Fajardo couldn't get his offensive game going versus Niles' bulk, and ROS didn't need to double team him. ROS eventually won the championship with Niles ending up as the lowest performing import ever in a PBA Finals series, ending up with single-digit averages in points and rebounds, but he was the blueprint Talk N' Text used when it hired Josh Smith for this year's Commissioner's Cup.
Perhaps the most menacing-looking import of all time, Long never smiled during a game. Couple that with his 6'9" massive frame and 250 lbs of muscle definition, no local player dared to get near the ex-SMB reinforcement. And with his short fuse, he was like a walking timebomb ready to explode. Red Bull's import Tony Lang found this out the hard way—his neck strangled by Long's grip in a tussle that almost led to a melee. Long would make for a basketball version of The Incredible Hulk—short fuse, uncontrollable emotions, a scary sight for punies like us.
The first time Waller stepped into the PBA hardwood as Añejo Rum's reinforcement, many saw him as a Mike Tyson-clone in terms of physical features. Waller was an imposing presence, muscles ripped all over his 6'4", 220-lb frame. The fascinating part was that Waller didn't turn out to be the slow, lumbering import many thought he would be—but instead, a graceful yet powerful presence inside. He scored from practically everywhere, and won the 1988 Open Conference Best Import award over the likes of big-named foes like Bobby Parks, Norman Black, Kenny Fields, Andrew Kennedy, and David Thirdkill.
This former Nigerian national player played for two PBA teams—the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs (2000) and the Red Bull Thunder (2002). Guiao saw the opportunity of bringing in Nwosu to team up with Tony Lang (and later, Sean Lampley) to lead the Thunder to its second championship. The 6'9", 255-lb mastodon was a terror inside the paint, blocking shots at every opportunity, and rebounding like a demon. Teammates, though, would admit that Nwosu was a pleasant, soft-spoken individual, making him one of the gentlest giants ever in the PBA.
While Terry was only 6'5" going up against taller opponents like Cyrus Mann, James Allen, Paul Marigney, Frank Gugliotta, Gene Moore and Byron "Snake" Jones, his presence was immediately felt because of his stocky, yet muscular frame. The Joe Frazier-lookalike joined the Toyota Tamaraws as a replacement for lemon import TJ Robinson and partnered with Bruce "Sky" King to give the Tamaraws the Invitational Conference title. Terry was extremely agile despite his heft, an iconic moment was his caveman look, brought about by Crispa's Jimmy Javier's yanking off his jersey in sheer frustration, tearing off one of the sleeves.