PBA: The imports of the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup - part one
The 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup starts on March 5, and with it comes another slate of imports to boost the lineups of the competing teams.
The Philippine basketball scene boasts of some of the most zealous fans, and imports are always under a lot of pressure to take starring roles on their teams. However, in contrast to last season, when teams could bring in imports of unlimited heights, Philippine Cup cellar-dwellers Air21 and Meralco can have imports up to 6’11” tall, while the rest of the teams are capped at 6’9”.
This season’s crop has some familiar faces returning to Philippine shores, and a host of new players looking to make their mark. Who did your favorite team bring in, and how does the import fit with the players already on the roster?
Read on for the imports of the Air21 Express, Alaska Aces, Barako Bull Energy Cola, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts.
Part two contains the imports of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, San Mig Coffee Mixers, San Miguel Beermen, Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters and GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Air21 Express – Hervé Lamizana (6’10”, Center)
The Franz Pumaren-helmed Express boosts its front court by getting this big man from the Ivory Coast. Hervé Lamizana is an experienced veteran with years of international experience in Europe, China, and Taiwan, and he looks to form a potent twin towers combination with the ageless Asi Taulava.
Lamizana grew up in New Jersey, playing high school and college ball there. After graduating from Rutgers University and going going unselected in the 2004 NBA Draft, he took his talents to Europe, playing for Türk Telekom. Soon after, he played for professional teams in Israel, South Korea, China, and Puerto Rico, before going to Taiwan to reinforce the Yulon Luxgen Dinos in 2013. There, Lamizana had a very productive 20-game run, norming 21.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 3.3 blocks per game, while shooting 73 percent from the line, an impressive number for a big man.
The 33-year-old was also one of the key players Ivory Coast national team in the 2010 FIBA World Championship held in Turkey, and more recently was a standout in the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship, though his side, despite being the hosts, fell a game short of booking a return ticket to the FIBA World Cup.
Prior to coming to the Philippines, Lamizana played for the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 74 percent from the line. He runs the floor well and has a decent handle. With him and Taulava down low, expect things to open up for the likes of Joseph Yeo and Mark Cardona from the perimeter.
Alaska Aces – Robert Dozier (6’9”, Forward)
The Aces bring back their import from last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, Robert Dozier. He led the Aces in the Finals of that conference, sweeping Barangay Ginebra 3-0, and winning Best Import honors. He culminated his first stint in the Philippines with a dominant 20-20 line: 27 points and 20 rebounds, while adding seven assists, and six blocks.
A former teammate of Derrick Rose at the University of Memphis, Dozier was the last player selected in the 2009 NBA, by the Miami Heat, but he went to play in Greece for that season after not getting a regular season pick-up. Dozier most recently had his feet in the NBA scene in 2012, when joined the Heat’s Summer League team, but he was cut before the start of the season, and toiled in the top Spanish leagues until he joined Alaska.
Dozier’s dominant run last year, coupled with the fact that the Aces are largely unchanged from last season, has the Gatas Republik thinking repeat. However, it remains to be seen if he is the antidote to the team’s defensive woes from the Philippine Cup, or if the squad will be able to build off the momentum from their late run to earn the eighth seed and take a game away from Barangay Ginebra.
Barako Bull Energy Cola – Joshua Dollard (6’7”, Forward)
Barako Bull Energy Cola is bringing in Joshua Dollard to replace Dwayne Chism as their import, after the latter failed to secure a release from the pro league in Hungary.
Dollard is a former Auburn Tiger who averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game in two NCAA seasons, and was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in his sophomore season. Dollard redshirted the 2007-08 season after transferring to the University of South Carolina Aiken for the 2008-09 season. Dollard only played one season at USC Aiken, but led the team in double-doubles with averages of 15.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 0.8 blocks a game. Dollard then left the team after that season to pursue his professional career, beginning in Europe.
Dollard’s overseas experience brought him to Switzerland for a season, before heading back to North America to play for the Halifax Rainmen in the IBA-PBL league (a U.S. and Canadian league) where he got more burn, averaging 17.9 points in nearly 30 minutes a game. Dollard also spent time playing in the Dominican Republic, Greece, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Colombia, before most recently playing for UU-Korihait in Finland and norming 20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.
Barako has a tendency to get undersized imports more known for their shooting skills than their post game, and Dollard looks to be the latest in that mold. They’ll gladly accept him if he can put the ball in the hoop a lot, what with their offense revolving around JC Intal and Ronjay Buenafe last season. However, it also means Dorian Peña and Mick Pennisi will be tasked to guard the imports of the other clubs, and the team does not have a lot of depth behind those two.
Read on to learn more about the imports of Barangay Ginebra and Meralco: