Exactly a week after the conclusion of the Commissioner’s Cup, the PBA is set to spring back to action as the Governors’ Cup starts on Sunday, January 22.
In this conference, teams will again have their reinforcements. The only difference is there's a 6-foot-6 height limit. Let's take a look at each import, starting with the new recruits:
Ethan Rusbatch (Converge FiberXers)
Rusbatch is a newbie not just in the PBA, but in overseas pro leagues. Nonetheless, he still has international experience, as Gilas fans may remember him for his games with his national team, New Zealand. Rusbatch has suited up against Gilas during the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. In the two games they played, Rusbatch scored 10 and 12 points.
Erik McCree (Magnolia Hotshots)
McCree is also a new face entering the league, but unlike Rusbatch, the 29-year-old already has experience playing in other pro leagues abroad. After his brief stint in the NBA and G-League, McCree played in Europe, most notably with Carpegna Prosciutto Basket Pesaro in the Italian Serie A, where he averaged 18.4 points in the 2018-19 season. McCree has also played in leagues in France, Denmark, Greece and Turkey.
Jonathon Simmons (NLEX Road Warriors)
Arguably the most popular of the bunch is Jonathon Simmons. The four-year NBA veteran is best known for his time with the San Antonio Spurs, where he notched a memorable 2017 playoff run that led to a three-year contract with the Orlando Magic. After over a year, the Magic traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers before getting waived. Failing to sign with an NBA team during free agency, Simmons has since spent the last two seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Marcus Weathers (NorthPort Batang Pier)
Originally, Weathers was supposed to be San Miguel’s import for the Governors’ Cup, however, the team decided to take another route and sign a different reinforcement. Still, the Batang Pier will be lucky to have Weathers, who is fresh out of college after playing for the Miami Redhawks, Duquesne Dukes, and Southern Methodist University Mustangs.
Jordan Williams (Terrafirma Dyip)
Williams will be carrying a lot of the load for the Dyip as they are hoping to improve their 1-11 record in the Commissioner's Cup. The 30-year-old Williams has played in several leagues abroad, most notably in the Mexican league where he played for seven years. Terrafirma needs to put points on the board, and they seem to have their guy in Williams.
Jalen Hudson (TNT Tropang Giga)
The Tropang Giga are looking at Hudson to lead them back to the playoffs after a disappointing Commissioner’s Cup run. Hudson’s last action was with the Hapoel Upper Galilee Safed in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. There, Williams averaged 19.4 points in nine games.
Now, let's take a look at the familiar faces:
Shawn Glover (Blackwater Bossing)
Shawn Glover will be returning to Bossing after averaging 34.8 points and 12.3 rebounds in the last Governors’ Cup. Unfortunately, Blackwater had a poor performance, ending the stretch with a record of 1-5 and finishing in last place with a final record of 1-11. But with more players now being able to step up for the team, it’s likely that Glover and the Bossing can finish with a better record this time around.
Justin Brownlee (Barangay Ginebra)
Not much needs to be said about Justin Brownlee anymore, but how fresh will the Gin Kings be? Just last week, Barangay Ginebra went the distance in its seven-game series against the formidable Bay Area Dragons. Other teams, meanwhile, have had at least a month of offseason.
K.J. McDaniels (Meralco Bolts)
One of the must-watch players for this Governors’ Cup is K.J. McDaniels. The 29-year-old NBA veteran has been playing for Meralco since the Commissioner’s Cup, where he averaged 27.3 points and 10.8 rebounds. If we look at past stints, the Governors' Cup is McDaniels’ cup of tea, pun intended, as such, Meralco seems ready to go all out for the championship.
Du'Vaughn Maxwell (Phoenix Super LPG)
The Fuel Masters are another team that decided to bring back their previous import. Maxwell was a latecomer during the previous Governors' Cup. Despite this, Maxwell helped Phoenix beat NorthPort in a playoff for the 8th seed. Their playoff run, however, came to an end during the quarterfinals after falling to the Magnolia Hotshots. Phoenix fans surely look forward to have him for a full conference.
Michael Qualls (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Qualls formerly played for the Batang Pier, averaging 32.1 points and 12.9 rebounds. Back in the 2019 Governors' Cup, the spitfire import even led then-8th seed Batang Pier to an upset over the top-seeded Road Warriors. Now with the Elasto Painters, Qualls is looking to continue to make his presence felt — as shown by his 53-point performance versus Meralco in their tune-up game.
Cameron Clark (San Miguel Beermen)
This will be Clark's second stint in the PBA after coming in for the Road Warriors last season to replace McDaniels. In the six games he played, Clark averaged 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, powering NLEX to the semifinals, where they lost to eventual champions Barangay Ginebra in four games. SMB will hope that with Clark as their reinforcement, they can finally win the Governors’ Cup crown.