Now that the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers have annexed their third straight conference crown, the attention of all ten (soon to be thirteen) teams is going to be diverted to the season’s last conference — the Governors’ Cup. The unique feature of this conference, of course, is that teams are allowed to imports who are no taller than 6-foot-5.
I’m here to look at the ten imports who will show their wares in the 2014 Govs’ Cup. Traditionally, PBA teams rely heavily on their imports for practically everything, from scoring, to rebounding, to defending, and, in some cases, even playmaking. The expectations are extremely high (which explains their skyrocketing salaries), and the pressure can really take its toll.
In this first part of the series, we will look at the imports of Alaska and Barako Bull. These are, respectively, Bill Walker and Eric Wise.
Alaska import: Bill Walker
Home country: USA
Born: Oct. 9, 1987 in Virginia, USA (26)
Listed height: 6-foot-6 (198cm)
US College: Kansas State
NBA Draft: 2008 – 47th pick
Has played in: NBA and Venezuela
Last played for: Sioux Falls Skyforce (NBA D-League)
Latest Available Averages: 14.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, 1.0bpg, 2 triples per game, .524 FG%
Notes: Walker played a total of 165 games in the NBA, 8 of which were in the postseason. His best season was in 2009-2010 when he averaged 11.9 points and 3.1 rebounds as a Knickerbocker. In that season, Walker played just 27 games for NYK, but he started in 13. He shot 52% from the floor and 43% from beyond the arc. In short, he was a solid wingman for the Big Apple boys. Things didn’t pan out in the years after, though, as he saw his playing time and production dwindle. Eventually, he ended his NBA tenure in 2012 and then signed with the Austin Toros in 2013. After just 3 games with Austin, he played for Trotamundos de Carabobo in Venezuela. His latest tour of duty was with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he was one of the top offensive options, leading the team to the 2014 D-League Semifinals where they lost to the eventual champions, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Walker has a great combination of size (his official international height is 6-foot-6 or 198cm), length, and range. That skill-set will most likely make him a primary option at the 4 or 3 for the Aces, who haven’t enjoyed consistent production from those spots this season. Both Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva haven’t really been stellar so far, so the onus will be on Walker to be dominant from the wings and in the paint.
Barako Bull import: Eric Wise
Home country: USA
Born: March 24, 1990 in the USA (24)
Listed height: 6-foot-7 (198cm)
US College: University of Southern California
NBA Draft: 2013 – Undrafted
Has played in: Luxembourg
Last played for: AS Soleuvre
Latest Averages: 28.3ppg, 11.7rpg, 2.8apg, 1.4spg, 1.3 triples per game, .573 FG%
Notes: Wise is a second-generation import in the PBA, and he’s one of the youngest as well. He played just one season at USC because he transferred from Cal-Irvine. As a Trojan, Wise was known as a versatile scorer who also rebounded well and was very aggressive in getting to the line. True to form, he normed nearly 8 free throw attempts per game while playing for AS Soleuvre, making about 82% of his charities.
With Wise probably playing as a stretch 4 (remember how he’s a tough rebounder), expect guys like Jason Deutchmann or Leo Najorda to have less pronounced roles this conference. Wise will also take away a lot of shots from guys like JC Intal, Mark Isip, and Ronjay Buenafe, but he’ll definitely help out in crashing the boards on both ends. This, in theory, should make like a little easier for guys like Mick Pennisi and Dorian Peña. He’s definitely not as explosive as Josh Dollard in terms of scoring, but, looking at the Barako roster, I don’t think anybody will mind if he Wise takes a lion’s share of the field goal attempts. – Rappler.com
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