It’s that time of the year again, as each PBA team will once again welcome battle-tested reinforcements for the highly anticipated 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, slated to begin on May 19.
These imports, who were first welcomed by the league in 1981, have brought world class talent to the Philippine hardwood and have raised the level of play among locals.
FOX Sports Philippines presents our “Here come the Imports” series, where we profile each PBA team’s basketball mercenaries for the upcoming conference, beginning with the NLEX Road Warriors’ Tony Mitchell.
Prior PBA experience
The PBA better have spare rims ready, as Tony Mitchell is set to return for his second tour of duty in Philippine soil.
The 6’8 27-year-old athletic specimen first played as an import for Magnolia (then called Star Hotshots) in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup, where he wowed Filipino audiences with angry, rim-rattling throw downs.
But despite averaging solid numbers of 21.25 points, 14.38 rebounds, 2.88 blocks, 1.75 assists and 1.0 steal and leading the Hotshots to a 6-2 record, Mitchell was eventually let go and replaced by Ricardo Ratliffe near the end of eliminations.
Although his interior presence on both ends of the floor was crucial for Star, Mitchell was deemed foul-prone and was often disqualified during crucial stages of the game. Still, there’s no denying that Mitchell is an immovable force when he manages to stay on the floor.
NBA and overseas stints
After two years playing for the University of North Texas in the NCAA Division 1, Mitchell was drafted 37th overall by the Detroit Pistons 2013 NBA Draft. Despite showing glimpses of his freakish athleticism, Mitchell struggled to get playing time and would eventually be assigned to the G-League (then D-League) with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Grand Rapid Drives.
He was eventually traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2015, but was waived before he could suit up for the team. After failing to make the Golden State Warriors’ roster, Mitchell played internationally in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, China, Dominican Republic, Israel, and Taiwan.
Fit with NLEX
Coach Yeng Guiao certainly values rim protection, evidenced by him trading for Poy Erram prior to the start of the season. With his freakish bounce and wiry wingspan, Mitchell will no doubt further help NLEX in that department.
Aside form catching lobs and cleaning misses with follow up dunks, Mitchell has also proven to have the ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting — another premium in Guiao’s offense.
Will Mitchell be able to stick around longer and finish the entire conference this time around? We’ll find out in the coming months.