The PBA Commissioner’s Cup is all set to open at the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA) on September 21, pitting the Blackwater Bossing against the Bay Area Dragons at 3 p.m. and Northport Batang Pier against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters at 5:45 p.m.
The PBA Commissioner’s Cup is returning from a two-year break and will feature a stellar cast of imports.
PBA SMB import Thomas Robinson
San Miguel Beer is defending its title won in 2019 with import Chris McCollough, in an effort to secure the second championship, which is crucial for the franchise to achieve this season’s grand slam dream.
The Beermen, led by Philippine Cup best player of the conference and finals MVP June Mar Fajardo, aim to improve their rotation upon the return of Terrence Romeo. They will be reinforced by Thomas Robinson, an NBA first round draft pick who was selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2012 NBA Draft and was later traded to the Houston Rockets. He also had stints with the Portland Trail Blazers (2013-2015), Philadelphia 76ers (2014-15 season), Brooklyn Nets (2015-16 season), and the Los Angeles Lakers (2016-17 season).
TNT new imports
Philippine Cup runner-up TNT Tropang Giga will lean on six-foot-eight reinforcement Cameron Oliver, an NBA veteran who formerly played with the Nevada Wolf Pack and had a three-season stint with the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks.
TNT appeared in the Commissioner’s Cup finals five times in the past eight stagings, eventually winning the 2015 championship.
SMB and TNT also clashed in the last Commissioner’s Cup finals, but the Beermen emerged as the champion in the best-of-seven title in six games.
Five other NBA veterans are also seeing action as imports in the conference. Andrew Nicholson, the 19th overall pick by Orlando in the 2012 draft, will don the Bay Area Dragons’ colors while NLEX will parade Earl Clark, a first-round NBA pick like Nicholson and Robinson (Sacramento, fifth overall, 2012), who was Phoenix Suns’ 14th overall pick in 2009.
Barangay Ginebra (Justin Brownlee), NorthPort (Prince Ibeh) and Terrafirma (Lester Prosper) are bringing in their previous imports.
Ginebra welcomes back Brownlee
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said a six-foot-five Brownlee could make the big difference for the Gin Kings as it already has two big guys in Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger, who can go one-on-one with imports on the court. Thus allowing Aguilar and Standhardinger to continue playing in regular minutes.
Cone said, “They are two of our best players. You don’t want to bring in an import and make one of our best players sit down.”
Other imports also expected to show their wares in the Commissioner’s Cup are Blackwater’s Cameron Krutwig, Phoenix’s Kaleb Wesson, and Magnolia’s Nick Rakocevic.
Meanwhile, Phoenix’s new stars may pull off surprises for the team that lost its two best players, Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins, in the coming conference. Both players combined for an average of 31 points in the Philippine Cup.
Wright no longer renewed his contract with the Fuel Masters as he instead signed up with the Kyoto Hannaryz of Japan’s B. League, while Perkins will miss action for the season after undergoing a knee injury.
But Phoenix coach Topex Robinson said he’s excited for the new challenge as the other players now have the opportunity to step up and fill the gap.
Rookie Tyler Tio and All-Filipino acquisition Javee Mocon averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 points, respectively. On the other hand, some games will be played at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. This development came on the heels of a recent meeting with new Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Noli Eala on PBA’s return to the government-owned facility, which was once home to Asia’s oldest pro league in the mid-80s until the early 90s.