Almost all imports set to see action in the coming PBA Commissioner’s Cup are in town, including San Mig Coffee’s Matt Rogers who flew in Monday morning.
A high bar among imports was set last year that not a single team is fielding a PBA returnee. All teams are after a better import.
Aside from Rogers, prospects are 6-11 Keith Benson for Talk n Text, 7-2 Bruno Sundov for Rain or Shine, 6-11 Justin Williams for Globalport, 6-8 Renaldo Balkman for Petron Blaze, 6-10 Herbert Hill for Barangay Ginebra, 6-10 Michael Dunigan for Air21, 6-9 Eric Dawson for Meralco, 6-9 Robert Dozier for Alaska and 6-9 Even Brock for Barako Bull.
They’re still just “prospects” until the mid-season tourney eventually gets underway Feb. 8.
San Mig Coffee, playing under the banner of B-Meg when it won this tourney last season, wanted to bring back Best Import awardee Denzel Bowles but the former James Madison U stalwart is still under contract in the Chinese league.
Coach Tim Cone himself flew to the US to look for another man, and found Rogers. Cone also took a look at the 6-11 Southwest Baptist product last year before deciding to go with Bowles.
Rogers played with the Texas Legends in the 2011-12 NBA D-League season, putting in 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. In the last NBA Summer League, he hooked up with the Indiana Pacers, playing five games.
Talk n Text, runner-up to B-Meg last year, thought of signing up Marcus Douthit but later opted to bring in Benson.
Benson, Sundov, Williams, Balkman, Hill and Dawson all came in with NBA credentials.
Last season, Benson played briefly with Golden State. He was the Atlanta Hawks’ second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Sundov, also a second-round NBA draft pick, had a long eight-year stint in the majors, playing for Dallas, Indiana, Boston, Cleveland and New York. The Croatian behemoth averaged 1.7 points and 1.0 rebound through his NBA career.
Balkman carries the most impressive NBA card, being a first-round pick who went on to average 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 221 games in six seasons with the Knicks and the Nuggets.
The Puerto Rican player was the Knicks’ 20th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, chosen ahead of Rajon Rondo (21sT). Traded to Denver in 2008, Balkman found his way back to New York in 2011 as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Sheldan Williams and Anthony Carter to the Knicks’ fold.
Hill is also a second-round draftee, chosen by the Utah Jazz at 55th overall in 2007.
A native of Ulm, Germany who played college basketball for Providence from 2003-2007, Hill strutted his wares in the majors with the Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Williams and Dawson were undrafted but nonetheless found their way to the NBA. The former got brief tenures with the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets while the latter played with the San Antonio Spurs in the last NBA wars. (SB)