PBA: The imports of the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup - part two
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 Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, San Mig Coffee Mixers, San Miguel Beermen, Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters and GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Part one contains the imports of the Air21 Express, Alaska Aces, Barako Bull Energy Cola, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts.
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Alexander McLean (6’8”, Forward)
The runner-ups of the Philippine Cup Finals will look to avenge their loss and claim the Commissioner’s Cup with the addition of forward Alexander McLean. The 6’8” forward did not play basketball in high school, but eventually turned down music scholarships to pursue the sport in college. After two seasons in Suffolk Community College in New York, McLean transferred to Liberty University, where he averaged 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in his last two years of eligibility.
McLean then globetrotted, starting in Poland, before playing in South America and Lebanon. He also had a stint in the Chinese Basketball Association’s Sichuan Blue Whales in 2011, norming 22.4 points, 14.6 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 9 games for the team. McLean eventually landed in Egypt and Qatar in 2011, and after playing only one game for Lebanon’s Anibal Zahle in 2012, he suited up for Iraq’s Division 1 team Nift Al-Janoub last year.
Versatility is once again the name of the game here for the Elasto Painters. They can put McLean anywhere from three to five due to his athleticism, allowing head coach Yeng Guiao to take advantage of mismatches and maximize his deep roster.
San Mig Coffee Mixers – James Mays (6’9”, Power Forward)
The current Philippine Cup champs look to make it three titles in a row with a Commissioner’s Cup triumph, adding big man James Mays. The Clemson University product averaged 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in his last collegiate season in 2008, in a year the team made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the March Madness Tourney. He went undrafted in the 2008 NBA Draft, but joined the NBA D-League Colorado 14ers to begin his pro career.
Mays went on to take his skills overseas to China’s Beijing Ducks and Puerto Rico, while putting in stints for Turkish basketball teams in between. In 2012, Mays went back to the U.S. to play in the NBA D-League, suiting up for the Springfield Armor, Maine Red Claws, and Sioux Falls Skyforce. Mays averaged a double-double in his most recent 47-game D-League stint, norming 15.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks, while leading the league in total offensive rebounds.
The burly forward had also played for the Central African Republic in the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship, and had found his way onto the 2013 Summer League team of the San Antonio Spurs
Mays has already been in the Philippines since January, spending time practicing with the Coffee Mixers as they played in the Philippine Cup postseason. The time he’s spent training and practicing will undoubtedly help his chemistry with the Tim Cone-helmed squad, and the team will likely lean on him early on as the vets recover from a grueling title run.
San Miguel Beermen – Josh Boone (6’9”, Power Forward)
The returning San Miguel Beermen are rolling the dice with another ex-NBA player, this time going with Josh Boone, perhaps best known as a member of the then-New Jersey Nets.
Boone had a solid college career – he was a member of the 2004 US NCAA championship team UConn Huskies as a freshman, and was the Big East Defensive Player of the year in his sophomore season. After his junior year, Boone declared for the 2006 NBA Draft, and was picked in the first round, 23rd overall, by the New Jersey Nets. He went on to play four seasons with them, with averages of 5.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks, before opting to play overseas after his contract was not renewed by the Nets.
Boone logged a couple of seasons with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, averaging a double-double during his entire stint, including 19.0 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in his second season, where he was teammates with fellow NBA player J.R. Smith, during the 2011 NBA lockout. Boone played a few games for a third season in late 2012, but he transferred back to the U.S. when the NBA D-League came calling. However, he had only appeared in a couple of games for the Iowa Energy before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. He averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games for Iowa.
The addition of Boone gives the Beermen a very imposing frontline – maybe the best in the league – teaming him up with June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos. There are some risks with Boone, however. While he is a good scorer and rebounder, his free throw shooting has always been very poor. He was hard-pressed to shoot above 50 percent from the line in his stays in the NBA and in China. He is also just a year removed from that knee injury, which means he may not have all his confidence and timing back.
For the Beermen though, as long as there’s no repeat of last year’s incident, when Renaldo Balkman choked his teammate Arwind Santos in a fit of rage, that could be enough to make them happy.
Read on to learn more about the imports of Talk 'N Text and GlobalPort: