IMPORTS have become instant attraction in the PBA and they’ve hugged the headlines of sports sections from the way they entertain the fans thru their brand of play, their personalities and sometimes doing crazy stuff, even the controversial ones.
At the height of the PBA’s decision to lift the ban on import Renaldo Balkman, FOX Sports Philippines came up with a list of seven controversial moments that happened to reinforcements who played in the 43-year history of the league.
7. Ronnie Thompkins (Purefoods) and Derrick Hamilton (Alaska) – Ronnie Thompkins and Derrick Hamilton are two imports who brought in different dimensions of playing styles.
The 6-foot-6 Thompkins was an athletic lefty rim protector, who played for Swift and led the squad to a championship in the 1993 Commissioner’s Cup. He returned three years later to play for the Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs.
Hamilton, on the other hand, was a potent offensive force when he first played for Pepsi during its first season of the PBA’s expansion year in 1990. He returned six years later to play for the Alaska Aces.
But while Thompkins and Hamilton play contrasting style, they have something in common when it comes to taking illegal drugs and that forced the PBA to impose a ban on the two reinforcements.
6. Kelvin Upshaw (Shell) – A talented guard, Kelvin Upshaw received a red mark when he first played for Swift. In front of the audience and in full view of the public watching on national television, he flashed his behind when he got ejected from a game.
A few years later, Upshaw would play for the Shell Turbochargers and this time, the headcase import got himself in a drug scandal and for taking an illegal substance, he was banned from playing in the league.
5. Richard Hollis (Purefoods) – In the 1991 First Conference, Purefoods has found a gem of an import in Richard Hollis, a lefty do-it-all import who made the Hotdogs a strong contender.
But somewhere during the team’s campaign, Hollis uncovered his real attitude when he deserted the team.
One practice, Purefoods liason officer Jojo Peralta was advised by management to check on Hollis and after he didn’t get a response, he decided to personally check the import at his hotel room where the former found out Hollis had already left.
“Akala ko nga siya pa rin yung nakahiga, pero yun pala pinagkumpol-kumpol pala na mga unan,” added Peralta.
Because of his actions and unprofessionalism, Hollis was banned from playing in the PBA.
4. Dexter Shouse (Purefoods) – Two years earlier, Purefoods encountered a similar incident and that happened when the team signed up Dexter Shouse, a talented import who also had a troublesome past.
Shouse appeared to be the right fit for the Hotdogs and his versatile plays allowed locals like Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa, Jerry Codiñera, Dindo Pumaren and Glenn Capacio among others to flourish.
But in the team’s most important game, Shouse left with no reason at all, forcing the Hotdogs to play all-Filipino during their knockout semifinals game against the Añejo 65ers for the right to face the San Miguel Beermen, a grand slam-seeking squad, in the championship round. The 65ers nipped the Hotdogs by a point.
It was the second time Shouse abandoned his team – the first one was in 1987 when he left the country in a hurry, citing fears at the height of a coup d’ etat during the Cory Aquino administration. A repetition of a similar incident resulted to a lifetime ban.
3. Daniel Orton – “The PBA is a joke.”
To the eyes of Daniel Orton, that’s how the country’s premier basketball league has become, especially when then PBA commissioner Chito Salud allowed Manny Pacquiao to play in the pro league.
Pacquiao was Kia Picanto’s first choice and will assume the role as playing coach, a move that doesn’t suit to the taste of Orton, an NBA veteran.
Because of his comments issued in front of sports scribes, Orton was banned from playing in the PBA.
2. Joe Ward and Tommy Davis – Joe Ward and Tommy Davis were the high-scoring pair of the Añejo Rhum 65ers during the 1988 PBA season.
Davis was the stocky forward while ward is known to be an athletic import and highly regarded as a religious person, so it caught everybody by surprise when the latter charged towards veteran Philip Cezar during an incident also involving his teammate, Davis, in what was regarded as the worst brawl ever in the PBA.
That happened in full view of the public as fans saw players emptying their respective benches while chairs were also thrown as the incident got escalated.
Even an injured Atoy Co, who had his arm on a sling, had to get into the piece of the action to come to the aid of his long-time pal Cezar.
“Yung import niyo gusto akong patayin eh,” said Cezar as cooler heads started to pacify things.
Call it an irony, Cezar joined Añejo the following season where he would play on until the 1991 season and would serve as an assistant coach until Robert Jaworski retired as playing coach of the squad in 1997.
1. Renaldo Balkman — An NBA veteran who also had a troublesome past, Petron Blaze, then the brand being carried by the old San Miguel franchise, took a chance on Renaldo Balkman during the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
In the first few games, Balkman appeared to be a good fit for the Blaze Boosters, but somewhere in between the game against the Alaska Aces, the import failed to keep his emotions in check.
His teammates and the coaching staff couldn’t even control him and things got escalated when he even choked his own teammate, Arwind Santos, while they were having a heated discussion. Fans, both the diehard San Miguel supporters and the opposite, were shocked on the incident, the first time they’ve seen such.
Balkman’s action resulted to a P250,000 fine and a lifetime ban.
Five years later, newly-installed PBA commissioner Willie Marcial lifted the ban on Balkman, who is playing for Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League, and open the doors on the possible return of the former PBA reinforcement.
Images from Retro PBA Facebook