Richard Howell, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Import, will be back for another tour of duty with Talk ‘N Text.
With his efficient performance last season right after leading the Tropang Texters straight to the championship round, Howell will be the barometer among the reinforcements competing in the tournament that starts on Tuesday.
Talk ‘N Text begins its campaign on Wednesday against Rain or Shine, a game where the Tropang Texters will also pay tribute to one of the all-time greats who played for the franchise – Mighty Mouse Jimmy Alapag.
Alapag’s jersey will be officially retired after the veteran guard announced his retirement a few weeks back. He will assume a new role as team executive of the Tropang Texters while also trying a new career in coaching where he will serve as an assistant coach to Tab Baldwin for Gilas Pilipinas.
But Howell, a massive 6-foot-8 frontliner, will be the focus of attention among the imports seeing action. He’s known for his rebounding prowess made evident by his 30-rebound performance in his team’s victory over Alaska in the elimination round last season.
His return to the Tropang Texters lineup this season will give the squad the one dominant big man they need to compete against the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter and other big imports in the tournament.
But Howell will not be the only yardstick among imports.
Another balik-import, Michael Dunigan, will see action anew this time for Barangay Ginebra while Marqus Blakely, a former Best Import just like Howell, will temporarily suit up for Purefoods pending the arrival of NBA veteran Daniel Orton, an ex-Orlando Magic frontliner.
Here are the rest of the imports:
Alaska – DJ Covington
San Miguel – Arinze Onuaku (uncertain)
Rain or Shine – Rick Jackson
GlobalPort – CJ Leslie
Meralco – Josh Davis
Blackwater – Chris Charles
Kia – PJ Ramos
NLEX – Al Thornton
Barako Bull – Solomon Alabi
Right after San Miguel Beer won the Philippine Cup crown, team manager Gee Abanilla told Tiebreaker Times that the Beermen and Onuaku had already agreed in principle although there’s no certainty yet whether he can fly in immediately.
Onuaku is reportedly looking for a possible call up from NBA teams, leaving the Beermen to look for other prospects.
Josh Davis was the latest addition to the import cast.
According to Real GM, Davis is leaving the Austin Spurs, his team in the NBA D-League, to play for the Meralco Bolts. He averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Spurs.
Photo by Nuki Sabio