The 10 best PBA imports of the past decade

Jun 29, 2019

THROUGH its first 44 years, the PBA has seen its fair share of great imports.

Billy Ray Bates, Norman Black, Bobby Parks, Sean Chambers. Those are just some of the foreign players who, in one way or another, have left an indelible mark in Philippine basketball.

But over the past decade, we've also seen a few notable imports, some of which have endeared themselves to fans thanks to their athletic gifts and winning attitude.

Here's the list of the Top 10 imports of the past decade.

Justin Brownlee Top 10 PBA imports

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Justin Brownlee

Let's start with the most obvious choice.

If you snap an eight-year drought of a team as beloved as Ginebra, you immediately include yourself in the conversation about some of the league's greats.

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And that's the case for Justin Brownlee.

Coming in during the 2016 Governors' Cup as a replacement for the injured Paul Harris, the St. John's alumnus made himself a fixture, not just in the PBA with the Gin Kings, but also in the Philippine basketball scene for the better part of the past four years.

Brownlee has had six tours of duty in the country, playing in both import-laden tourneys in the last two seasons, and a potential third one once he suits up in the Ginebra red-and-whites in this year's Governors' Cup.

He is also one of the most winningest, delivering three championships to Ginebra, including the 2018 Commissioner's Cup where he was finally named the Best Import.
Brownlee's impact with the Gin Kings has been truly felt, with the crowd favorites not finishing lower than a semifinal appearance whenever he plays.

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And with the way he has been playing, it won't be surprise if championship No. 4 soon finds its way to Brownlee and Ginebra.

Paul Harris Top 10 PBA imports

Paul Harris

The man Brownlee replaced isn't just any other dude. Paul Harris also flaunts a resume that could compare with the best of them, enjoying four stints in the PBA.

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The Syracuse forward has been a resident import for Talk 'N Text in the early parts of the decade, enjoying three runs with the then-Tropang Texters.

His cool, calm, and collected demeanor was a perfect blend to the high-octane duo of Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro, helping TNT claim the 2011 Commissioner's Cup title.
Harris came back in the season-ending conferences in 2012 and 2014, although he could only lead the squad to the semifinals, the last of which where he came in as a replacement for Othyus Jeffers and Rodney Carney before bowing to eventual champion San Mig Coffee.

He once again returned in 2016, this time for Ginebra, but he hyperextended his right thumb in only his first game for the crowd darlings that led to Brownlee replacing his spot.

AZ Reid Top 10 PBA imports

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AZ Reid

AZ Reid is the perfect embodiment of a resident import.

Thanks to his versatility on both ends of the floor, the 6-foot-5 forward out of High Point has had eight stints in the PBA, winning two Best Import awards in the 2011 and 2014 Governors' Cups.

Reid has had a huge part in helping Rain or Shine stay as a contender in the early parts of the decade, though he could only help the Elasto Painters finish as runner-up to eventual Grand Slam champion San Mig Coffee in 2014.

But that narrative changed when he joined San Miguel in 2015, finally winning his first title in the Governors' Cup.

The Beermen called him back in the season-ender in 2016, though Mike Singletary and Elijah Millsap eventually replaced him.

His last stint was in 2018, lasting only four games before being shipped out for Kevin Murphy as Reid was obviously far from the deadly form everyone has come to know.

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Wayne Chism Top 10 PBA imports

Wayne Chism

From one Yeng Guiao favorite to another.

Wayne Chism has had five tours of duty in the PBA, coming in for Rain or Shine in the 2014 Commissioner's Cup when he replaced Alexander McLean.

The following year, however, was when Chism finally showed his full power for the Elasto Painters, winning the Best Import award, averaging 25.9 points. 15.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, as 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks as he led the team to a runner-up finish to TNT in the midseason conference despite coming in as a substitute for Rick Jackson.

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Chism's last three runs, however, were tough.

The Tennessee alumnus suffered an injured hamstring two games into the 2016 Commissioner's Cup, with Antoine Wright coming in as his replacement. Rain or Shine still made two import changes that conference, first bringing in Mo Charlo, before Pierre Henderson-Niles led the squad to a bridesmaid finish to TNT.

Guiao once again brought him back in 2017, this time with NLEX, although his gaudy stats weren't enough to net wins for the Road Warriors.

Chism also came in as the fourth import for Magnolia, after Vernon Macklin, Curtis Kelly, and Justin Jackson, in the 2018 Commissioner's Cup. Though he helped the Hotshots reach the quarterfinals as the seven-seed, Alaska booted them out for good.

Denzel Bowles Top 10 PBA imports

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Denzel Bowles

Forget about the TNT debacle that Denzel Bowles found himself in back in 2017 - the slotman out of James Madison University is still one of the best the decade has to offer.

The then-23-year-old showed tremendous guts when he hit two clutch free throws to send Game Seven of the 2012 Commissioner's Cup Finals to overtime, with B-Meg team manager Alvin Patrimonio embracing him in jubilation in one of the league's most iconic scenes. The Llamados won the game and the title, with "Monster Bowles" being hailed as the Best Import in only his first tour of duty.

The Purefoods franchise called him back three more times, losing to Alaska in the semis of 2013; replacing Daniel Orton in 2015 before falling to TNT in the semis; and his last, lasting only five games in 2016 before Ricardo Ratliffe came in his place.

Controversy halted what could have been his return in 2017, but Bowles is back in the PBA, reunited with his old teammate James Yap at Rain or Shine in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup.

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Marqus Blakely Top 10 PBA imports

Marqus Blakely

Holding seven tours of duty to his name, Marqus Blakely can stake his claim to being a part of the 2014 Grand Slam-winning San Mig Coffee squad.

But in case anyone forgets, it was Blakely who really started the then-Coffee Mixers' run of dominance.

His first stint ended in a runner-up finish to Rain or Shine in the 2012 Governors' Cup, but he came back in 2013 winning the Best Import award but more importantly, helping San Mig Coffee weather Petron in seven games to claim the championship in the season-ending conference.

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That started four straight titles for the Coffee Mixers, with Blakely being the anchor of the team's back-to-back conquests in the Governors' Cup in 2013 and 2014.
He returned in 2015, first as a stand-in import for three games in the Commissioner's Cup and eventually in the Governors' Cup, losing to Alaska in the semifinals.

Star called him back in 2016, but the tour of duty only lasted for four games before Joel Wright came in.

TNT was the last team to sign Blakely in the 2018 Governors' Cup, replacing Mike Glover and Stacy Davis, but his best efforts could not get the KaTropa to the playoffs.

Rob Dozier Top 10 PBA imports

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Rob Dozier

Reliable as always, Rob Dozier has been in the country four times, the first three with Alaska. He has been a model of consistency.

Dozier averaged 20.4 points, 17.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, and 2.4 assists in his first foray, winning the Best Import award in the 2013 Commissioner's Cup, where he also steered the Aces to the championship over Ginebra.

He returned the following year, only to fall in the quarterfinals against San Mig Coffee, but came back stronger in 2016, taking the spot of Shane Edwards and guiding Alaska to a bridesmaid finish to Rain or Shine.

It would take three more years before his return, with former Aces assistant coach Louie Alas signing him for Phoenix. But a foot injury ended his 2019 Commissioner's Cup campaign that only lasted for two games.

Eugene Phelps Top 10 PBA imports

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Eugene Phelps

Eugene Phelps is a walking scoring machine across his five stints with Phoenix and "El Destructor" made sure he lived up to the hype each time he set foot in the country.

The Long Beach State forward immediately announced his presence with a 52-point performance against NorthPort in only his first game in the PBA back in the 2016 Governors' Cup, rescuing the Fuel Masters after a dreary run with Marcus Simmons.

He would have three more of those half-century scoring feats as he quickly drew comparison to some of the league's old high-scoring reinforcements.

For all his offensive outbursts, though, Phelps could not help Phoenix past the quarterfinals, with his best showing also being his last. He steered the Fuel Masters to the two-seed in the 2018 Governors' Cup, but they squandered a twice-to-beat advantage and fell to seven-seed Meralco.

Allen Durham Top 10 PBA imports

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Allen Durham

A two-time Best Import awardee, Allen Durham is beloved in the Meralco camp for aiding the squad reach the finals in the 2016 and 2017 Governor's Cups.

That's quite a leap considering that the forward out of Grace Bible College started his PBA career as a late replacement for the high-scoring Eric Wise in Barako Bull back in the 2014 Governors' Cup.

But Durham was a more refined player when he got to the Bolts, giving the squad an anchor down low as they pushed Ginebra to the limit in both instances. His effort, though, wasn't enough as they settled for back-to-back runner-up finishes.

He returned in the 2018 Governors' Cup, but Alaska would eliminate Meralco in the semifinals, denying Durham a third straight Finals appearance.

Michael Madanly Top 10 PBA imports

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Michael Madanly

Anyone remembers the two seasons where the PBA welcomed Asian imports?

Well, Michael Madanly is certainly the best from the bunch, earning invites from NLEX and TNT in his PBA career.

The Syrian swingman proved why he is one of the continent's top players, averaging 19.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in his run with the Road Warriors during the 2015 Governors' Cup, including a 36-point performance against Ginebra.

Unfortunately, his brilliance, together with Kwame Alexander, weren't enough as NLEX finished ninth.

He was back the following season in the 2016 Governors' Cup, this time with the KaTropa, averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 boards, and 1.3 dimes as he teamed up with Castro, as well as fellow reinforcement Mario Little, and later on, Mychal Ammons.

Madanly was a big reason for TNT reaching the semifinals in the third conference, but Meralco took the KaTropa out in four games ending his PBA run.

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