TAKE it from Norman Black.
When the Meralco coach says the batch of imports in the 2018 PBA Governors Cup is one of the best ever, better believe him. Black, after all, is a two-time Best Import awardee and owner of the pro league's Mr. 100-Percent award.
Black has played against the great Billy Ray Bates during his time and has seen a lot of imports play in the PBA since first coming over in 1981 with Tefilin, but this batch of imports has obviously left quite an impression on him.
Black said this conference’s batch of imports is so impressive that this year’s cast could give the previous ones a run for their money.
“Actually, there were six imports that were really exceptional,” said Black, mentioning Romeo Travis of Magnolia, Mike Harris of Alaska, Justin Brownlee of Ginebra, Eugene Phelps of Phoenix, Henry Walker of Blackwater and his own import at Meralco, Allen Durham.
“These guys are really good imports and they can match up with any of the imports in the past,” said Black.
Black cited Harris, whose credentials are so impressive that he admitted trying to recruit him as an import six years ago. Harris was once an NBA D-League MVP when he played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Harris was also instrumental in Alaska’s win over Black’s Meralco in their Governors’ Cup semifinal series.
“Mike Harris has been a star. I tried to recruit him six years ago. He has been a star in every league (that he played in). He is 35 years old and he is still quite good,” said the Meralco coach.
Black said Meralco import Durham did a fine job at trying to contain Harris in a colossal match-up between the two imports during the semifinals.
“Probably the difference between the two guys is Harris is a better perimeter shooter,” Black said.
When asked who he thinks should be the Best Import awardee this conference, Black said it should go to the two who took their teams to the finals.
Black, though, said the gap isn't big between Harris and Travis.
“I would go with the guys that are winning,” Black said. “It’s so close. It still should be between Travis and Harris. They are the ones that are on top. I don’t think any of them stood out among one another too much. They are all very, very good. But I have to go with the top two guys.”