By Justin De Jesus
MANILA--As the reinforced conference of the PBA Season 46 draws near, all eyes have shifted towards the recruitment of imports by different squads.
Seven teams have opted to bring in familiar faces, while the other five will try to make a fresh start with a newcomer to mark the return of an import-spiced tournament in the league for the first time since 2019.
By all accounts, we made a brief profiler for each import that will take the stage for the second conference.
Here are the first six imports confirmed for the second conference.
Alaska - Olu Ashaolu
|Olu Ashaolu makes a PBA return but this time with the Aces. PBA Images (file photo)|
The 33-year-old banger out of Oregon is fresh off a tour of duty with the Niagara River Lions of Canadian Elite Basketball League, where he helped the team finish as runners up in the 2021 season posting averages of 7.9 points and 4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes.
Ashaolu is also out to redeem himself after he was replaced by NLEX for Manny Harris despite leading the squad to a 4-1 start in the 2019 Governors’ Cup.
Brgy Ginebra - Justin Brownlee
|Ginebra did not look further for its Governors' Cup import. Nikki Collantes (file photo)|
Being the resident import for the league’s most popular team since 2016, the 6-foot-5 slasher will try to add up to his already decorated career in the PBA by steering Barangay Ginebra to another crown after their disappointing All-Filipino conference performance.
Brownlee has already helped the Gin Kings win four titles in three years, also having won the Best Import in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup. He is also the current leader in career three-point field goals among imports with 334.
Blackwater - Jaylen Bond
|After one year in the G-League, Jaylen Bond starred in the Middle East.|
Bond spent one season in the NBA G-League playing for the Westchester Knicks, averaging close to 8 points and 6 rebounds a game, before having stops in Italy, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
Magnolia - Mike Harris
|After he was denied a championship by the same franchise, Mike Harris will be joining the Hotshots. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
In his lone PBA appearance back in 2018, he earned the Best Import nod and led Alaska to the Governors’ Cup finals before bowing down to Magnolia.
Harris is also set to reunite with his former Aces teammate Calvin Abueva, as they will both seek to complete their shot at redemption to an unfinished business, this time playing for the same exact team that denied them the crown.
Meralco - Shabazz Muhammad
|Shabazz Muhammad might be the most high-profile import this year. Jim Mone/AP (file photo)|
The 6-foot-6 forward from UCLA was a mainstay for the Minnesota Timberwolves for five years and suited up briefly for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018.
In the 2014-2015 season, he posted career high in points with 13.5 a game, but his season was cut short following a season-ending surgery for a torn ligament in his finger.
Muhammad, 28, last played in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Shenzen Aviators, averaging 23.5 markers and 9.3 rebounds in 29 minutes.
NLEX - KJ McDaniels
|KJ McDaniels is now taking his high-flying acts to the Road Warriors. PBA Images (file photo)|
In his PBA debut, he tallied a career-high 41 points and 22 boards, to go with seven dimes and five blocks in a 135 - 107 victory against Blackwater.
He helped the Tropang Giga go all the way to the semis before losing to Meralco.
McDaniels had already suited up for three NBA teams (Philadelphia, Houston, Brooklyn), and had his best year in his rookie season, posting 9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.3 bpg.
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