Scouting the 2015 Governors’ Cup imports: Talk ‘N Text, Rain or Shine, San Miguel, NLEX, Purefoods, Ginebra
The PBA Governors’ Cup is about to kick off with a diverse cast of imports set to strut their wares in front of the passionate Filipino basketball fans. With some teams having no height limit imposed on their reinforcements, others having to work around a 6-foot-5 cap and a few teams availing of the option to add an Asian import, there will be more than a few faces to have to get to know over the course of the conference.
InterAksyon.com takes a look at some of the new guys right as the season-ending tournament gets set to begin.
SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN – ARIZONA REID
San Miguel is bringing back Commissioner’s Cup import Arizona Reid, who came in to help salvage a disappointing conference for the Philippine Cup champions after they lost their first four games of the tournament.
He’s a two-time Best Import in the Governors’ Cup – one of only eight imports in PBA history to win more than one – although he failed to lift Rain or Shine to the title either time.
Reid’s impact was felt immediately. He provided a nice boost on offense, scoring 29.4 points per game, the fourth highest in the league, while also finishing first among imports in assists with 3.9 dimes per game. He also held his own on the boards despite his size, grabbing 10.7 per game and was near the top of the league with 2.3 steals.
Though they weren’t exactly world-beaters with Reid, they managed to finish with a winning record with him (4-3 in their last seven games) despite having an undersized reinforcement.
With a more level playing field in terms of height (barring the handicap system) – and a better-rested Beermen squad heading into the conference – AZ could have a fair chance at showing just how valuable he can be to the champion squad. The deck was stacked against him last conference but this will likely be a much better campaign both for Reid and San Miguel in this one.
TALK ‘N TEXT TROPANG TEXTERS – STEFFPHON PETTIGREW and SAM DAGHLES
Steffphon Pettigrew is a former teammate of Japeth Aguilar over at Western Kentucky University. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in his final year with the Hilltoppers, finshing second all-time in career games played for WKU.
He has had stints in Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. He was named 2nd Team All-League in the Mexican LNBP in 2013 after averaging 20.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals for his squad.
But more than the numbers he can put up, what’s notable about Pettigrew is his attitude. His WKU coach, Ken McDonald, praised his professionalism, saying “I never have to worry about him doing his job at the highest level of his ability… He is such a reflection of what we want our program to portray.”
Jordan’s Sam Daghles, meanwhile, needs little introduction. He’s been one of the top-performing backcourt players on the Asian level. He averaged 14.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. He has vast experience on the international stage, playing in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, where he normed 12.8 points and 5.6 assists, and in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Daghles is going to provide elite playmaking (he averaged as much as 9.1 assists one season in the CBA) and some decent three-point shooting (1.4 threes on 3.9 attempts for 36.5% one CBA season and 38.9% during the 2011 FIBA Asia tilt).
Talk ‘N Text, which will be gunning for another title after ruling the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, added some flashy new weapons in its arsenal, and another run at the title will not be out of the question for this squad.
PUREFOODS STAR HOTSHOTS – MARQUS BLAKELY
Balik-import Marqus Blakely is another guy who is already well-scouted in the league. The PBA’s ‘Mr. Everything’ has done it all in the league.
Blakely has helped lead Purefoods to back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles – and they will be looking for a three-peat this conference. He’s won the Best Import award and even been part of the rare Grand Slam, posting 20 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in title-clinching game last year.
He’s a versatile player on offense, helping out not just in scoring in the paint but also with his passing ability. But where he really shines is on the defensive end and on the boards, where he is an absolute monster.
The veteran PBA import will also undoubtedly have great chemistry with his teammates, with this being his fourth tour of duty (not counting last conference where he only played three games to hold the fort while Purefoods waited for the availability of Daniel Orton) with the team.
Blakely will have to help pick up the pieces of Purefoods’ disappointing encore to their Grand Slam win, though. They’ve failed to advance to the finals in the first two conference of the season, something that could change with Blakely back in uniform for the Hotshots.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS – WENDELL MCKINES
Wendell McKines is a former Alaska import back for another stint in the PBA.
The 6-foot-4, 240-lb. bruiser did well two seasons ago, posting averages of 29.7 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 11 PBA games. But he was one of the imports that really made the most of his experience in the Philippines, getting a taste of what life is like here.
McKines was once forced to take the MRT during rush hour due to a traffic gridlock brought on by floods. He admitted that he had to wear his backpack in front and kept a watchful eye on his wallet during the ride.
He also posted a video of him playing in the street courts around the neighborhood he resided in when he was here.
His on-court performance will not be much of a question when he makes his return. But he will have to deal with some pretty big expectations as well as he joins a Rain or Shine team that fell one game short of the Commissioner’s Cup title.
The Elasto Painters will be looking for another strong campaign and much of it will fall on McKines.
NLEX ROAD WARRIORS – KWAME ALEXANDER and MICHEL MADANLY
NLEX’s import, Kwame Alexander, is known as a big-time dunker. In college, he made waves as part of NCAA Division II’s Cal State San Bernardino for his slams, even collapsing a hoop once on a two-handed alley-oop finish. He averaged 17 points, nine rebounds and close to two steals in his senior year.
He’s also played professionally in Greece, averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds despite playing just 19.4 minutes per game for Trikalla.
Alexander is a remarkable athlete who has even drawn some interest from NFL teams that flew him on for tryouts even if he hasn’t had much experience in organized football.
That athleticism will come in handy here and he could be a fan favorite if he can bring the house down with some of those dunks he’s known for.
Michel Madanly is NLEX’s Asian import and he’ll be one of the more exciting guys to watch for. He’s one of the more talented scorers among the crop of imports, once averaging 33.1 points for Syria in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship. He’s gotten the job done even in the tough CBA, where he averaged 21.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the 2011-12 season.
There aren’t a lot of Asian reinforcements this conference that can do the things Madanly does and that’s a good sign for the Road Warriors, who will have plenty of firepower coming from their imports this conference.
BARANGAY GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL KINGS – ORLANDO JOHNSON and SANCHIR TUNGALAG
Since being drafted in the 2012 NBA Draft, Orlando Johnson has played 96 games (89 with the Indiana Pacers and seven for the Sacramento Kings) in the NBA. He played on the Summer League team of the league-best Golden State Warriors as well.
In his collegiate days, he finished as UC Santa Barbara’s all-time leading scorer, despite playing just three years for the school. He averaged 19.7 points and 2.9 assists for his team. He also played for Team USA in the World University Games.
He was known as a capable scorer with a strong frame, able to take advantage of smaller players in the post. Defensively, he has some upside as well, owning a 6-foot-11 reach despite standing only 6-foot-4. One of Johnson’s strengths will likely be his mental toughness, having gone through several family tragedies in his early years.
He seems to have the tools necessary to be a good PBA import. But what will make him stand out – especially to Ginebra fans – is this quote he gave to SFGate.com: “I have a never-say-die attitude. Whenever my back is against the wall, I think that’s when I perform my best.” If he can back up those words, Johnson is going to endear himself pretty quickly to Ginebra.
Sanchir Tungalag is also an interesting addition for the Kings. The Mongolian basketball star boasts impressive numbers in his domestic league (30.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists in the most recent season) and was even a former Finals MVP for the champion team.
In the Incheon Asian Games, Tungalag helped lead Mongolia to an 8th place finish, right behind Gilas Pilipinas in the final standings. He averaged 18.4 points in nine games (minus a game against Iran where he only played two minutes and did not score), notching a high of 31 points against Hong Kong and scoring 26 and 24 against Japan and Korea, respectively.
He’s not the most known commodity but will get to introduce himself to fans in the Governors’ Cup.