Justin Brownlee, Allen Durham, Romeo Travis
Battle royale among elite imports
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With high-caliber foreign reinforcements playing a huge factor in the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup won by double champ San Miguel Beer, the teams are bringing in big guns in their battle royale in the season-ending Governors Cup.

The grand slam-gunning Beermen, themselves, are pinning their hopes on an NBA G-League and Italian League campaigner in Dez Wells, hopeful the former University of Maryland forward will provide the same effect as their Commissioner’s Cup hero, NBA first-rounder Chris McCullough.

TNT KaTropa, fresh from their runner-up finish in the second conference anchored on former Houston player Terrence Jones, is turning to Jones’ old Rockets teammate KJ McDaniels as they aim to go all the way next time.

Most of the squads are calling up former Best Imports in the season-ending meet, with Magnolia banking on Romeo Travis for its title retention bid, Barangay Ginebra going to resident import Justin Brownlee anew, and Meralco giving two-time awardee Durham his fourth tour of duty.

There are more balik-imports coming with Phoenix Pulse bringing back Eugene Phelps, Blackwater, coming off a franchise best No. 3 seeding in the Commissioner’s Cup, relying on Aaron Fuller (formerly of NLEX) and the Road Warriors fielding Olu Ashaolu for a third time.

The Alaska Aces, the Govs Cup second placers last year, are eyeing 2018 top import Mike Harris again in their effort to settle an unfinished business.

Deviating from the rest, Columbian is unleashing little known Khapri Alston of Midwestern State.

SMB coach Leo Austria stressed the importance of having a high quality import. In the Commissioner’s Cup, the Beermen initially struggled with Charles Rhodes in tow, but surged back to the top upon McCullough’s arrival.

“As you can see in the Commissioner’s Cup, import really matters. If you don’t have a good import, most probably, it would be hard for you to win. What we’re trying to do is have somebody who could match up with and cancel out the import of the other teams,” said Austria, who followed the template of TNT which hired a legit NBA player in the mid-season tourney.

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