Three PBA title contenders fielding new imports Friday
MANILA, Philippines—Title contenders Rain or Shine, Alaska and Talk ‘N Text suit up new imports Friday as they seek to enhance their playoff drives in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Wayne Chism returns for the Elasto Painters as they slug it out with the Aces, who ditched DJ Covington for NBA veteran Damion James, in the 7 p.m. game with both seeking second straight victories.
The Tropang Texters have decided to let go of last season’s Best Import, Richard Howell, in favor of Ivan Johnson. The Texters and Johnson clash with sister squad NLEX and Al Thornton at 4:15 p.m.
Howell’s departure was unexpected. The Texters are running second behind tournament leader Meralco with four victories in five matches, but coach Jong Uichico and his deputies want to raise the Talk ‘N Text game a notch higher with the addition of Johnson.
Recently waived by the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends, Johnson played for several teams in the NBA. With a tumultuous collegiate career, he played for four schools in the NCAA, including Cal State Bernardino for a season.
Johnson is notorious for having run-ins with the leagues because of his behavior. Talk ‘N Text will be getting legitimate NBA talent with a volatile temper that once resulted in fines from the NBA for rowdy behavior against fans.
Rain or Shine, meanwhile, will be playing for the second time with Chism, who completed a contract in China before coming over to replace Rick Jackson.
Chism will be a more athletic import for coach Yeng Guiao, whose Painters have a 3-2 record at the moment and will be clashing with an Alaska side that is welcoming back its core from the injured list one by one.
Only James, who also played for the Texas Legends in the D-League, has yet to be measured for the 6-foot-9 height limit.
Covington had the desire to play but clearly lacked the skill to dominate his peers in the league.
James was a member of the 2014 NBA champion team San Antonio Spurs, among other credentials.
“We are replacing DJ (Covington) because Damion James has more experience and is a versatile player,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, who broke in JV Casio the last game and had Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva returning from different injuries.