6. BARANGAY GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL
Ginebra hopes to make another title run with the return of Justin Brownlee, whose buzzer-beating three gave the Gin Kings their first PBA title in eight years during last season’s Governors’ Cup. It may also be a disadvantage for Ginebra, which will have to play without a legitimate big man with Greg Slaughter still out with an injury.
5. RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS
The Elasto Painters are now only eager to retain the Commissioner’s Cup title, but also erase their disastrous performance in the Philippine Cup when a four-game losing skid almost cost them a playoff berth. Former GlobalPort import Sean Taggart tries to provide the offensive spark the team needs.
4. STAR HOTSHOTS
Star may have found a serviceable import in Tony Mitchell, who is perhaps the most explosive among the current batch of imports based on his clips playing overseas, the NBA D-League and with the Detroit Pistons. Paul Lee’s injury, however, may affect the Hotshots in the early goings of the tournament.
3. ALASKA ACES
Cory Jefferson is now Alaska’s import after the sudden departure of Octavius Ellis. Should Jefferson be the right import for the job, expect the Aces to be among the top contenders with their locals led by Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero and new acquisition Simon Enciso still formidable on both ends.
2. TNT KATROPA
The KaTropa are left without an import after deciding to send home former Best Import Denzel Bowles. TNT looks to carry on the progress it made in the Philippine Cup when it pushed the eventual champion San Miguel Beermen to the limit despite having a young mentor in Nash Racela.
1. SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN
Despite the possibility of enduring another slow start following another title run in the Philippine Cup, the Beermen are expected to be the team to beat with their deep lineup powered by June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Finals MVP Chris Ross. Long-time Korean import Charles Rhodes is being envisioned as someone who can form a twin tower combination with Fajardo.
quick replacement when Ellis left the team because of a family matter.
Compton added that Jefferson, who is listed at 6-foot-9 and played 58 NBA games for the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix from 2014 to 2016, immediately joined the team after arriving in the country.
Jefferson is coming off a stint with the Austin Spurs of the NBA D-League where he was named to the Western Conference team in last month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans.
He played for seasons with Baylor in the US NCAA from 2009 to 2014, averaging 13.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in his final season with the Bears, and was drafted as the last overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA draft.
Meanwhile, TNT KaTropa is once again searching for another import after former Best Import Denzel Bowles was sent home by the team.
Bowles was not present in TNT’s tune-up game against his former team Star Hotshots at the Ronac Activity Center in San Juan City.
TNT won’t see action until March 24 against the Meralco Bolts at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.