MANILA, Philippines – Teams of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) have tabbed former NBA players for the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup when the mid-season tournament kicks off on February 8.
According to the PBA website, almost all of the imports who are seeing action in the Commissioner’s Cup have arrived in the country, with San Mig import Matt Rogers the latest to arrive after flying in Monday morning.
San Mig initially wanted to bring back Denzel Bowles, who led the Coffee Mixers to last season’s Commissioner Cup crown, but he was under contract with the Chinese Basketball Association.
Instead, San Mig picked Rogers, who has played in the NBA D-League, as well as in the Summer League.
Among the imports, it is Petron’s Renaldo Balkman who has the most impressive NBA resume, having been a former first-round draft pick who played six seasons in the league, with stints at the the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets.
Talk 'N Text, meanwhile, is bringing in 6-foot-11 Keith Benson, who was a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and played mostly in the NBA D-League. He was signed by Golden State Warriors briefly in March 2012.
In an interview with Snow Badua, TNT assistant coach Josh Reyes said Benson’s skill set was a good fit for head coach Norman Black’s system.
“We need an import who can defend scorers like Denzel Bowles. At the same time, kailangan namin ng go-to guy sa post, lalo na pag crucial. Sa tingin namin, si Benson ‘yun,” Reyes said.
Meanwhile, Air21 has brought it 6-foot-10 Michael Dunigan, who has played for the Memphis Grizzlies and is already practicing with the Express after arriving in the country last January 18.
“Hanep pumoste. Pag-pihit niya, dunk agad. Ang lakas ng katawan,” Air21’s John Wilson told Badua in a separate interview. “May shooting din, pero iba ‘yung back down, back down, kasi dakdak agad.”
Rain or Shine will have the tallest import in the conference after picking 7-foot-2 center Bruno Sundov. The Croatian player was a second-round pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and played for five different NBA teams as well as different European teams.
Ginebra’s Herbert Hill, meanwhile, was a second-round pick of the Utah Jazz in the 2007 draft.
Meralco’s Eric Dawson and GlobalPort’s Justin Williams were both undrafted, but Dawson saw action with the Austin Toros in the NBA D-League, while Williams played for the Dakota Wizards and the Sacramento Kings in 2007.
Alaska has picked 6-foot-9 forward Robert Dozier, who was taken by Miami with the last pick in the 2009 NBA draft and played for the Heat in the 2012 Summer League.
Barako Bull, meanwhile, will play with 6-foot-9 Evan Brock.
No PBA team is fielding a returning import, although Reyes told Badua that former TNT import Donelle Harvey remains on stand-by.
There is no height limit for imports in the Commissioner’s Cup.