Brownlee, Hollis-Jefferson, ex-NBA vets banner PBA Commissioner's Cup list of imports

MANILA, Philippines – As all Filipino basketball junkies’ eyes are set on Gilas Pilipinas at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games, PBA ball clubs are busy bees making their moves in local player and reinforcement signings.

With over a month until PBA Season 48 unfolds, the majority of teams have already fortified their respective lineups by bringing in the most talented cagers all over the world onboard.

“Mamba 2.0” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson makes a return in the PBA
“Mamba 2.0” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson makes a return in the PBA together with other ex-NBA pros and FIBA World Cup players.

Signing up for imports is not an easy task for team coaches, consultants, and managers especially with the height limit in mind. For this conference, PBA has set the import height ceiling at 6'9".

The recently-concluded Rookie Draft has also been instrumental for the squads to bolster their roster come the opening day on November 5.

READ: 2023 PBA Rookie Draft Recap: Deep talent pool, Fil-foreign players on the rise

This year’s draft pool arguably has one of the deepest talents in the league’s history. Not only talents in terms of skills but as regards to height as well.

As of writing, nine out of twelve teams have already introduced their imports to the media and fans.

Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel – Justin Brownlee

The six-time league champion, Brownlee is highly-expected to dominate the season anew as the resident Ginebra import will be coming fresh from the Asiad stint.

Standing at 6’6”. The Gin Kings shooting guard is obviously the shortest reinforcement in the PBA. But make no mistake, despite the height discrepancy, Brownlee set a scoring average of 27.7 in the previous conference.

TNT Tropang Giga – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Before making a splash in the FIBA World Cup as a naturalized Jordanian player, Hollis-Jefferson left an indelible mark in the country for giving TNT a PBA Governors’ Cup crown, Best Import of the Conference and a whopping 31.0 ppg.

The former Nets, Hollis-Jefferson will clash against Brownlee as Team Jordan faces off against Gilas Pilipinas in the first round of the Asian Games men’s 5x5 basketball.

Magnolia Hotshots – Tyler Bey

Couple of months ago, the Hotshots had already picked their import for the upcoming conference; a 22-year-old and 6’7” former NBA player. Tyler Bey.

Bey was a 2020 NBA Draft second-rounder chosen by the Dallas Mavericks and played a few games alongside Luka Doncic.

Though smaller, Magnolia will be banking on Bey’s defensive and perimeter shooting skills.

San Miguel Beermen – Tyler Stone

The Beermen, who last won the trophy in 2019, are all set to compete and reclaim the title by bringing in a 6’8” globetrotter, Tyler Stone.

Stone went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft but found basketball success overseas by playing in Europe, Russia, and Asia.

The power forward recently played in Romania where he won Player of the Year plum with 19.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.8 apg under his name.

NLEX Road Warriors – Thomas Robinson

Another NBA veteran will step his foot on the Philippine soil as NLEX tapped journeyman Robinson who played for multiple teams including Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.

Robinson, who made the PBA's height limit, was San Miguel’s original import choice. But due to an injury that time, the signing didn’t materialize and both parties moved on.

Meralco Bolts – Feron Hunt

Like its sister team, Meralco opted for a former NBA player, Hunt, who played for the New York Knicks.

After his swift NBA stint, he saw action at the GLeague with an average of 16.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg.

The 24-year-old Hunt was described by Bolts Coach as a vocal leader, compliments well with the rest of the team, and could give them winning opportunities.

Converge FiberXers – Tom Vodanovich

Converge has re-signed Vodanovich for this conference after giving the team a sensational and promising performance in the previous Governors’ Cup.

The Converge import replaced Jamaal Franklin at the last phase of 47th Governors’ Cup early this year.

Vodanovich also played for New Zealand Tall Blacks and NBL.

Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters – Nick Evans

After a disappointing 42nd William Jones Cup, the Elasto Painters are pondering whether to utilize Evans, their recruit for the international competition, in the upcoming PBA season.

As of writing, Evans is ROS’ unofficial import. But there’s a big possibility that there will be a sudden change of heart as the team has just acquired two big men at draft in Luis Villegas and Keith Datu Jr. who are 6’7” and 6’8” respectively.

Blackwater Bossings – Chris Ortiz

The Bossing, who have been scouting Ortiz for quite some time, finally agreed to terms and play for the team this conference.

Fresh from the FIBA World Cup, Ortiz who was an integral part of team Puerto Rico in the said quadrennial event will now have a chance to taste the physicality of Philippine basketball.

The 6’8” forward had a decent 7.2 ppg and 2.4 rpg stats at the FIBA World Cup and where he contributed significant points in his team’s victory against regional rival Dominican Republic.

Three teams, on the other hand, are still looking around at the import market; NorthPort Batang Pier, TerraFirma Dyip, and Phoenix Fuel Masters have yet to disclose their reinforcements with over a week to go before the PBA re-opens.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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