THE trend of teams sticking with imports they are familiar with continues in the PBA Governors Cup that starts Friday.
Eight of the 12 imports featured in the season-ending tournament have had previous league experience, with five seeing action anew for the same team they played for last year
Only Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beer, TNT, Alaska and Columbian are parading new faces, aching to see if their respective gambles pay off.
The Beermen have Dez Wells, the KaTropa KJ McDaniels, Alaska Justin Watts and the Dyip Khapri Alston.
Drastically less are the worries of the other teams, which have gone for reinforcements who have had experience in the league, the opposition and, most important, the system of their respective teams.
Leading the pack is Justin Brownlee, who has been a familiar fixture in Ginebra since 2016 and has won three titles with the Kings.
Brownlee is sure to be more fired up this time as he and the rest of the crowd favorites were denied a three-peat in the same tournament last year, bowing to Magnolia in just four games of their best-of-five semifinals duel.
In his third tour of duty in the PBA and second straight year for Magnolia is Romeo Travis, who led the Hotshots to the same tourney’s title last year.
Travis has been in the country for almost a month now and is eager to help Magnolia bounce back from a disappointing campaign in the last Commissioner’s Cup and retain its Governors Cup crown.
Also back is Eugene Phelps, whose yearly tenure with Phoenix dates back to 2016.
Like Brownlee, the man known as “El Destructor” is on a mission as he and the Fuel Masters finished last year’s eliminations at No. 2 but blew a twice-to-beat advantage over Meralco in the quarterfinals.
As pumped up is Olu Ashaolu, who came in as early as last year’s Commissioner’s Cup for NLEX, but suffered a pre-tournament injury that limited him to just three games for the Road Warriors.
Ashaolu flew in early and saw action when NLEX’s Commissioner’s Cup campaign was once again lost, but remains healthy with now more help in Kiefer Ravena and JP Erram.
Finally, there’s Allen Durham, a two-time Best Import awardee in the Governors Cup but has failed to take Meralco to the Promised Land, with the Bolts losing to Ginebra in 2017 and losing to Alaska in the semis last year.
Those who have seen action in the PBA before but not suiting up for new teams are former TNT reinforcement Mychal Ammons, now with NorthPort; ex-Star import Joel Wright, set to play for Rain or Shine; and old face Marqus Blakely, now with Blackwater while original choice Aaron Fuller, himself formerly with NLEX, recovers from injury.