Brownlee calls current crop of PBA imports ‘most talented I’ve seen’

Delfin Dioquino
Brownlee calls current crop of PBA imports ‘most talented I’ve seen’
Several teams have joined the trend of tapping reinforcements with NBA pedigree

MANILA, Philippines – Justin Brownlee described the current roster of PBA Governors’ Cup imports as the best he has ever seen, with several teams joining the trend of tapping reinforcements with NBA pedigree. 

“It’s been a lot of good imports from the few stints that I played here with [Barangay] Ginebra, but this is probably, maybe the most talented I’ve seen with a lot of NBA guys,” Brownlee told reporters. 

“And [there are] guys who are just talented, period. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here,” he added after a 39-point explosion in 98-89 victory over Rain or Shine on Saturday, October 26. 

After former NBA players Terrence Jones and Chris McCullough led TNT and San Miguel, respectively, to the Governors’ Cup finals a couple of months ago, other teams have also upped the ante on their import choice.

Despite winning 4 of its first 5 games, NLEX replaced Olu Ashaolu with Manny Harris, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks, in the middle of the conference.

The change paid big dividends, with Harris averaging 42.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in back-to-back wins. 

Meanwhile, Phoenix acquired the services of Alonzo Gee, who had trips with the Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, and New Orleans Pelicans through 8 seasons, in hopes that it can turn around its fortunes after a 2-5 start with Eugene Phelps.

Gee delivered in his PBA debut with 45 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals, and 2 blocks, although it ended in a crushing loss

TNT also stuck with the same strategy, bringing in former Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets guard KJ McDaniels, who powered the team to the a 7-1 record, good for the top spot in the team standings.

Other teams went with equally dangerous imports like Dez Wells of San Miguel, Khapri Alston of Columbian, and Marqus Blakely of Blackwater.

Wells averages a whopping 39.9 points after two 50-point performances, Alston norms 29.4 points and 18.5 rebounds, while Blakely puts up 15.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, and 3.1 steals per game. 

While the import competition has been heating up, the three-time PBA champion said the team still comes first. 

“This is really all about the team, trying to improve the team. Because some of these guys are so good, it ain’t just going to be about me stopping them or whoever’s guarding them,” Brownlee said. 

“It’s going to really be about the team. When we play a good import like Dez Wells or somebody like that, it’s not one person who can stop that guy. We just got to focus on coming together as a team.” 

Barangay Ginebra guns for a fourth straight win when it tangles with Blackwater on Wednesday, October 30, at the Cuneta Astrodome.

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.