Sep 11, 2022

Commissioner's Cup returns with stellar cast of imports

IN a little over a week, the PBA Commissioner's Cup returns from a two-year hiatus, with the mid-season tourney featuring what could be the most explosive cast of imports in years.

San Miguel Beer will be defending the crown it won with Chris McCollough in 2019 before the Commissioner's Cup lulled into a two-year breather amidst the pandemic.

The Beermen go for a Commissioner's Cup title-repeat and for a possible second jewel to a dream grand slam this season with former NBA first-round draft selection Thomas Robinson as import.

June Mar Fajardo and his teammates are hopeful especially with their rotation to go deeper on the return of hotshot Terrence Romeo later in the tourney.

The TNT Tropang Giga, runners-up to the Beermen in the recent Philippine Cup, had their share of solid runs in the Commissioner's Cup, making the finals five times in the last eight editions and going all the way to win the championship in 2015.

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They go for it in the 2022 wars with another NBA veteran Cameron Oliver as reinforcement.

Curiously, the Beermen and the Tropa themselves slugged it out in the last Commissioner's Cup finals, with the Beermen winning the best-of-seven title playoff in six games. Scuttled was TNT's title aspiration with the highly touted Terrence Jones.

In comes now Oliver for the Tropa. Oliver, a six-foot-eight former Nevada Wolf Pack, played three seasons in the NBA with the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks.

Five other NBA veterans are in the stellar cast of imports in the tourney that fires off Sept. 21.

The list includes Andrew Nicholson, the 19th overall pick by Orlando in the 2012 draft who is suiting up with guest team Bay Area Dragons.

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The other former NBA players are NLEX' Earl Clark, Meralco's Johnny O'Bryant, Converge's Quincy Miller and Rain or Shine's Daniel Ochefu.

Clark is a first-round NBA pick like Nicholson and Robinson (Sacramento, fifth overall, 2012). The NLEX choice is the 14th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2009.

Barangay Ginebra (Justin Brownlee), NorthPort (Prince Ibeh) and Terrafirma (Lester Prosper) have opted to bring in old hands.

Brownlee will be the shortest at 6-4 5/8, but coach Tim Cone is hopeful they can match up with all the other teams with their local bigs in Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger.

No one can question the wisdom of coach Cone's decision, with the Kings having their successful campaign with Brownlee in this tourney in 2018.

Also set for action in the tourney are Cameron Krutwig of Blackwater, Kaleb Wesson of Phoenix and Magnolia's Nick Rakocevic. (SB)