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, which began last 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.
Another “balik-import” is slated to make his way back to the PBA. In his return to the Philippines, Charles Rhodes, the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup Best Import awardee, is set to reinforce the San Miguel Beermen.
Professional basketball experience
A well-traveled import, the 33-year-old Rhodes has plied his trade in five countries which include the Philippines, Latvia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. The Galveston, Texas native has become a sought-after reinforcement especially in South Korea, where he would suit up for five different ball clubs.
In his recent stint with the Incheon ET Land Elephants, Rhodes averaged 18.85 points and 9.15 rebounds per game to help guide the team to a runner-up finish in the 2018-19 season of the Korean Basketball League.
Rhodes’ first stop in the Philippines was a fruitful one, as the former Mississippi State Bulldog bolstered a loaded San Miguel side for its championship run in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup. Along with mainstays June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross, Rhodes was instrumental in helping the Beermen claim their 26th PBA title. Pitted against the TNT KaTropa in the best-of-seven finals showdown, Rhodes outplayed his counterpart Joshua Smith to lead the Beermen to a 4-2 series win.
In his lone stint in the PBA, the 6-foot-8 forward tallied 27 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Rhodes also displayed versatility on offense, converting 64.1% of his field goal attempts while draining 36% of this three-pointers. Rhodes’ dunks also became a regular fixture on highlight reels, often punctuated by his signature celebration.
Fit for San Miguel?
Familiarity with the local players and the system implemented by coach Leo Austria should be the least of worries for Rhodes. Having worked with the San Miguel core in 2017, blending in with the established stars of San Miguel shouldn’t be a challenge for their former import.
The challenge for the entire team actually is scoring an encore to their recent championship conquest in the 2019 Philippine Cup. With a squad now backstopped by Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo, the pressure is on the Beermen once more to claim the midseason crown.