Familiar names and newcomers composed the batch of imports that will suit up for the PBA Governors’ Cup which starts today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The diverse group has a returnee nicknamed “El Destructor,” a newcomer who wants to show that he’s more than just a talker, a reigning Best Import and a beloved hero of last year’s memorable title run.
Simpson was described by his father as someone who can jump as high as Vince Carter, which YouTube has supported with videos showing his dunking abilities at UNC Greensboro in the US NCAA and in European stints in Greece, Finland, and France. The 25-year-old hopes to display his full talent in front of Filipino fans, but will have big responsibilities with Mac Belo out for the first few games because of Gilas duties and Art dela Cruz out for the conference with a torn Achilles.
The former Auburn Tiger is another first-time import who will try to lead the Hotshots to a finals appearance after back-to-back semis exits in the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cups. The 24-year-old is coming off his first international stint with Israeli club Galil Elion, and will attempt to bring his self-described do-it-all talent to the country.
(Globalport Batang Pier)
The 25-year-old alumnus of Georgetown University (and a former college teammate of TNT’s Commissioner’s Cup import Joshua Smith) is a first-time overseas player after a two-year stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA D-League, helping them win the championship in the 2015-16 season. Trawick is eager to bring his knack to play the post and presence in the shaded lane to a team that is in dire need of either qualities.
(Phoenix Fuel Masters)
The man nicknamed “El Destructor” is back for another tour of duty for the Fuel Masters, who enter the conference with high expectations after three straight quarterfinal exits. Phelps gave a preview of what to expect when he dropped 53 points against Blackwater in his lone game in the Commissioner’s Cup as temporary import. Phelps will be trusted upon to deliver his usual 20-20 numbers.
(NLEX Road Warriors)
The 27-year-old nomad is taking his act to the Philippines where he will be tasked by coach Yeng Guiao to finally end the Road Warriors’ woes. Fuller, who studied at Iowa and USC, has traveled to Portugal and New Zealand, the latter country enabling him to win the National Basketball League’s scoring champion and All-Star Five selection.
The former Santa Cruz Warriors cage returns to help the Aces’ quest rebound from a disappointing performance in the Commissioner’s Cup marred by the team’s failure to make the quarterfinals for the first time in coach Alex Compton’s tenure. The southpaw from Lansing, Michigan displayed his potential to fulfill Alaska’s mission when he scored 40 points in a recent tune-up game against Gilas Pilipinas.
The 28-year-old makes his second PBA stint after Kia’s original choice, Chane Behanan, failed to make the maximum height limit of 6-foot-5. Cummings suited up for Globalport in the 2013 Governors’ Cup but failed to reach past the quarterfinals. Before his Manila return, Cummings played three seasons in the NBA D-League followed by stops by Poland, Egypt and Lebanon.
Craig is currently remembered for his role in several verbal skirmishes with the San Miguel Beermen as a spectator in Game 3 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, but will get a chance to flaunt his skill of bulldozing his way inside and hit outside shots on a few occasions. Before arriving last conference, Craig was coming off a stint for the Samsung Thunder in South Korea.
(San Miguel Beermen)
McKines is making his third PBA stint after stops with Alaska in 2013 and Rain or Shine in 2015 with the expectation of having to face the pressure of helping the Beermen win a historic grand slam. McKines has been around since the middle of the Commissioner’s Cup, which could bode well for San Miguel as far as chemistry is concerned.
The one-time Barako Bull reinforcement was last year’s Best Import after leading Meralco to its first finals appearance. Durham, however, had a bitter finish to his campaign when the Bolts lost to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Justin Brownlee’s game-winning three. The well-traveled American, who is known for stints in France, is determined to finally put Meralco in the winner’s circle.
Brownlee returns to the conference that made him become a part of Ginebra’s lore. Fans of the league’s never say die squad remains grateful for his buzzer-beating triple that ended an eight-year title drought. The former St. John’s standout enters the tournament with plenty of motivation as he tries to recover from failing to lead Ginebra to at least a finals berth last conference and give the Gin Kings a second straight Governors’ Cup trophy.
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