With San Miguel and Magnolia still yet to see action this conference, only 10 teams and 11 imports have taken the hardcourt.
Most of the imports have fitted well and are dominating so far, while some have yet to stamp their class in this import-laden Commissioner’s Cup.
In this list, we’ll be ranking every import based on their individual and team performance. Do you agree with the picks?
11. Adrian Forbes (NLEX Road Warriors)
Stats (one game): 26 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks, one assist, 62 percent shooting from the field, 60 percent shooting from the line
Forbes was good, but not good enough to salvage his job against Moultrie this conference. He was athletic and speedy, but he wasn’t that dominant force that dominant force for NLEX as shown in his lone game against Columbian; the team was handily beaten by 20, 103-123, and Forbes, aside from lobs and easy dunks, looked really limited on offense. He was a minus-14 in 40 minutes.
10. Charles Garcia (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
Stats (one game): 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds, two steals, 44 percent shooting from the field, 42 percent shooting from the line
It wasn’t a pretty debut for Garcia, who was still reeling from sickness when he faced Rain or Shine last April 29. The stand-in import was OK on all accounts, but they probably need an import who’s a much better force down low considering Ginebra will still miss Greg Slaughter for a bit more. But if he does get back, it might also mean a return for Justin Brownlee, who’s coming off a championship victory in the Asean Basketball League. If Garcia sticks for another game or two, he’ll need to find his footing – fast.
9. Arnett Moultrie (NLEX Road Warriors)
Stats (one game): 24 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, one block, 50 percent shooting from the field, 80 percent shooting from the line
NLEX’s first choice import finally arrived in the Philippines and took over Adrian Forbes’ job just two games in the conference. He had five turnovers and lost in his debut, but the best is yet to come for this guy; coach Yeng Guiao likes bigs who aren’t one-dimensional on offense and are reliable on the other end of the floor, and Moultrie happens to be one who can extend his range when needed while playing stout defense.
8. Jeremy Tyler (TNT KaTropa)
Stats (two games): 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 50 percent shooting from the field, 63 percent shooting from the line
Tyler has actually been underwhelming for the 2-0 KaTropa. In both of his games, he’s been outplayed by opposing imports James White (32 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) and Malcolm White (27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists). He has yet to record a steal and a block in this conference, too. It’s a good thing that the team’s success so far has overshadowed his play, or else he would have been on the hot seat already. This isn’t a cause for concern for TNT, though; he’s an excellent talent, and he’ll find his rhythm when he settles in for the team’s next games.
7. James White (Phoenix Fuel Masters)
Stats (two games): 31.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 60.5 percent shooting, 76.5 percent shooting from the line
No offense to the Fuel Masters’ bigs, but their frontline was pretty underwhelming last Philippine Cup. White has so far solved that problem by being their go-to scorer on offense and anchor on defense. They just happened to come across a more well-rounded TNT KaTropa in their second game, but they’re a pretty good team too with him manning that five spot. There’s a big chance they’re making the quarterfinals.
6. Arinze Onuaku (Meralco)
Stats (two games): 25.5 points, 16.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 2.5 blocks, 81 percent shooting from the field, 58 percent shooting from the line
He’s back! The former Best Import awardee wasted no time getting back to work. In the team’s first game against Columbian, Onuaku missed only one of his 15 shots and was four assists shy of a triple-double (30 points, 19 rebounds) in the team’s big win. Slowing him down is going to be difficult, especially when he has two great playmakers in Chris Newsome and Baser Amer to get him good looks.
5. Antonio Campbell (Alaska)
Stats: 31.5 points, 19.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, 44 percent shooting from the field, 38.5 shooting from downtown, 70 percent shooting from the line
For his first overseas stint, Campbell’s not doing a bad job.
He’s arguably the most versatile import this conference. On offense, he’s creative and can knock down those long bombs for Alaska efficiently (he made eight treys, albeit on 18 attempts, in his debut against Rain or Shine) while being an apt passer and an excellent rebounder. He’s no presence in the paint yet, but that’s OK; he still has the advantage of taking opposing import off the dribble or on the perimeter while holding his own on defense. Campbell’s job is secure.
4. Jarrid Famous (Blackwater Elite)
Stats (four games): 30.5 points, 20.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.5 assists, 0.75 steals, 52.2 percent shooting from the field, 68.8 percent shooting from the line
The returning Famous must be exhausted from all the carrying that he’s been doing for Blackwater. He’s been virtually unstoppable and unmovable at the block, but he’s not getting any help from the locals. The Elite still have yet to win a game, but they can’t blame it on this guy. He’s definitely staying for them.
3. Malcolm White (GlobalPort)
Stats (three games): 27.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 block, 0.6 steals, 62.6 percent from the field, 47.6 percent shooting from the line
An already excellent rebounding team just got better with White’s addition. The team, who holds a 2-1 record so far, can’t ask any more from their big guy, who’s playing well off of the attention that stars Stanley Pringle and Sean Anthony demand. They’ll even be more dangerous once the team jells completely in the post-Romeo era.
2. CJ Aiken (Columbian Dyip)
Stats (three games): 19.3 points, 16.6 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 58.6 percent shooting from the field, 33.3 percent shooting from downtown, 58.3 percent shooting from the line
Aiken-t believe it, either. Columbian, who holds a 2-1 win-loss record, has already more wins last conference already. And while most of the credit goes to coach Ricky Dandan instilling a changed mentality among his boys, CJ’s role in all of this cannot be understated. He’s shown that he can take any role he needs to take in any game; in the first game against the Elite where he was matched against Famous, he took only eight shots and focused on defense and rebounding. Aiken looked more assertive in the next two games on offense and was more balanced on both ends. He complements the fast-paced Dyip offense by running a lot, too, and the team can’t ask for a better import right now than him.
1. Reggie Johnson (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Stats (three games): 25.0 points, 17.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 blocks, 0.3 steals, 50.3 percent shooting from the field, 22 percent from downtown, 78 percent shooting from the line
Big credit to the Elasto Painters’ 3-0 start goes to Johnson, who has been the perfect import so far for the team. He’s giving the team a dominant low-post presence that they usually lacked in All-Filipino conferences and blends well with the locals’ style of play. The burly big man occasionally knocks down treys and is a great playmaker off the post, with coach Caloy Garcia often lauding him for always looking to involve his teammates in every possession.