Last update: September 12, 2019
Some tried and tested imports are returning for the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup, led by former Best Imports Allen, Durham, Justin Brownlee and Romeo Travis who will suit up for Ginebra and Magnolia, respectively.
Olu Ashaolu will also be back for another tour of duty for NLEX, while Aaron Fuller will be suiting up for the Blackwater Elite. Eugene Phelps will be reinforcing Phoenix anew. Khapri Alston, Dez Wells, and KJ McDaniels are the newcomers among the confirmed set of PBA imports, tipped to see action for the Columbian Dyip, San Miguel Beermen, TNT KaTropa, and Alaska Aces respectively.
Here's the current list of imports for the Governors' Cup.
Justin Watts - Alaska
Former University of North Carolina Tar Heel forward Justin Watts will join the Alaska Aces as its import after original pick Branden Dawson was determined to be over the 6-foot-5 height limit for imports.
Watts is coming off a recent stint with King Szczecin in the Polish League where he averaged 9.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 14 games. He won a championship with the Rockhampton Rockets in the Queensland Basketball League in 2013 before seeing action in other countries like Mexico, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Lithuania and Switzerland.
Mychal Ammons - NorthPort
Coming off a quarterfinal finish in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup, NorthPort looks to go further with former TNT import Mychal Ammons for the season-ending Governors' Cup.
The 27-year-old Ammons is expected to add inside presence for NorthPort, a team that reached the quarterfinals before bowing to eventual Commissioner's Cup champion San Miguel after blowing a twice-to-beat advantage.
Ammons is fresh from a stint with the Zonkeys de Tijuana in the Mexican league, posting averages of 16.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 37 games.
The former South Alabama standout had his first PBA foray with TNT, when he came in as a replacement for Mario Little and helped the team reach the 2016 Governors' Cup semis before bowing to Meralco, 3-1 in the series.
Joel Wright - Rain or Shine
Wright's first PBA foray wasn't pleasant as Star finished its Governors' Cup campaign three years ago with a pitiful 2-9 record. But Rain or Shine saw something in Wright that merited his return to the PBA.
The 29-year-old Wright is coming off a recent stint with BBC Monthey in the Swiss League, averaging 16.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 16 games. He played on the same team with Arizona Reid, who incidentally reinforced Rain or Shine in 2013 and 2014, before winning a PBA title with San Miguel in 2015.
Wright, a Texas State standout, will be bringing his extensive basketball experience to the Elasto Painters who are still searching for their first PBA crown under coach Caloy Garcia.
The Elasto Painters fell short in their championship drive in each of the first two conferences this season. Rain or Shine bowed to the Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the Philippine Cup in the semis then lost to San Miguel in the semis of the Commissioner's Cup.
KJ McDaniels - TNT KaTropa
Former Houston Rocket Terrence Jones fell short in his bid of leading TNT to the PBA championship in the just-concluded 2019 Commissioner's Cup. But another former Rocket in KJ McDaniels will try to complete that unfinished business as he's set to reinforce the KaTropa in the Governors' Cup.
TNT KaTropa team manager Gabby Cui confirmed the development with ESPN5 Saturday.
The 26-year-old McDaniels is a legitimate NBA veteran who was selected 32nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014 and has played in 148 regular season games.
In his rookie season where he played 62 games for the Sixers and Rockets, the former Clemson standout went on to average what would turn out to be his NBA career-best numbers of 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game.
In his NBA career, McDaniels has averages of 5.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 148 regular season games and 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in four playoff games.
Beyond the scoring though, McDaniels is expected to bring in his defensive intensity, an identity he had in college when he was named the 2014 ACC Defensive Player after averaging 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals for the Tigers to go along with 17.1 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Dez Wells - San Miguel Beermen
The Beermen embark on their Grand Slam bid by tapping NBA G-League and Italian league veteran Dez Wells for the season-ending conference. SMB team manager Gee Abanilla confirmed the signing a day after their Commissioner's Cup title conquest.
Wells, 27, played for Xavier and University of Maryland in college, averaging 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 130 games, and went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft. He suited up twice for the Oklahoma City Blue in the G-League, averaging 13.0 points 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 87 games. Most recently he saw action for Victoria Libertas Pesaro of the Italian Lega Basket Serie A, where put in averages of 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. In 2017-18 he played for Scandone Avellino, averaging 11.6 points, 3.0 boards, and 1.5 dimes. He has also played in Greece.
Allen Durham - Meralco
The hulking Allen Durham will be back for the fourth straight year with the Meralco Bolts, with high hopes that he'll finally be able to lead his team to a first-ever PBA title.
Durham led the Bolts to back-to-back Finals appearances in the 2016 and 2017 Governors' Cup. But both times, the Barangay Ginebra Kings upended their championship dream.
Durham though will have frontcourt help this time following Meralco's acquisition of veteran slotman Raymond Almazan in a recent trade with Rain or Shine.
Durham, 31, remains at the top of his game, coming off a solid stint with the Shiga Lakestars in the Japan B.League this year where he registered per-game averages of 22.3 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 18 games.
Justin Brownlee - Barangay Ginebra
Despite Barangay Ginebra's failed title-retention bid in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup, coach Tim Cone prefers someone familiar, so it's no wonder Brownlee will be returning for the Kings for the seventh time since 2016.
Brownlee averaged new PBA career-high numbers of 35.9 points and 13.6 rebounds for Ginebra in the team's recent Commissioner's Cup stint, which ended in a 3-1 semifinal defeat to TNT.
He has been playing almost non-stop in 2019, beginning in February when he helped Mighty Sports to a third place finish in the 30th Dubai International tournament. He then played for Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut, leading the team to the Lebanese championship before joining Ginebra in the midseason conference.
With over a month of break, Brownlee is expected to come out more determined and energized as the Kings look to redeem themselves in the Governors' Cup.
Romeo Travis - Magnolia
Travis is coming back to the PBA for the third time since he first suited up for Alaska in 2015. He is turning 35 but remains at the top of his game as evidenced by his double-double stats line of 15.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in 36.2 minutes of play for Mono Vampire in the recent ASEAN Basketball League season.
Magnolia got eliminated early in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup playoffs, suffering a 2-0 shutout at the hands of Barangay Ginebra. But with Travis back, the Pambansang Manok are confident they can defend their 2019 Governors' Cup crown.
Olu Ashaolu - NLEX
Ashaolu is starting to become NLEX's resident import, making a return stint with the team for the season-ending conference.
He first saw action for NLEX in the Commissioner's Cup last season. He also played in the 2018 Governors' Cup but was replaced by Aaron Fuller after he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon on his knee.
He played just three games in the Commissioner's Cup eliminations, where he he normed 24.7 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists. With Ashaolu in tow, Guiao feels NLEX has a solid chance of ending the 2019 season with a playoff appearance, especially with Kiefer Ravena set to return from an 18-month FIBA ban.
Marqus Blakely - Blackwater
Marqus Blakely is sure to bring in a lot of athleticism and experience for Blackwater, which is looking to improve on its impressive 2019 Commissioner's Cup showing.
The 30-year-old Blakely will be playing for his seventh conference on PBA. He spent his first five conferences with the Purefoods franchise, winning two PBA titles in the 2013 and 2014 Governors' Cup. He was also named the 2013 PBA Best Import.
He then played for TNT last season as a replacement import, averaging 23.0 points, 9.8 rebounds 6.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks in five games. But the KaTropa failed to reach the quarterfinals with their 4-7 record in the 2018 Governors' Cup.
Blackwater team governor Silliman Sy doesn't see any problem in securng Blakely's release from TNT.
Known for his energetic plays and rim-rattling dunks, Blackwater expects Blakely to be the same do-it-all import who they hope could lead the young franchise to a first-ever PBA Finals stint.
The 6-foot-4 Blakely is coming off a stint with the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka in Japan where he normed 18.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 35.8 minutes of play. He will first see action for Blackwater in the 2019 East Asia Super League Terrific 12.
Eugene Phelps - Phoenix
Eugene Phelps hasunfinished business with Phoenix, the team he led to the no. 2 seed in the playoffs during last season's Governors' Cup.
The Fuel Masters are focused on bouncing back from a troubled Commissioner's Cup campaign after Calvin Abueva was suspended indefinitely by the PBA.
Phelps averaged monster numbers of 29.1 points, 18.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists with Phoenix last season, numbers that could hopefully propel the team to greater heights in the season-ending conference.
Khapri Alston - Columbian
After winning just a combined seven games in the first two conferences, Columbian coach John Cardel is determined to lead the Dyip to the playoffs for the first time under his watch.
Cardel is hoping Alston, a 240-pound standout from Midwestern State University, can provide what they need to make it to the playoffs.
"He plays big for his size, a strong post-up player, and can surely help plug the hole in the middle for our team," Cardel told ESPN5.
Alston averaged 22.1 points, 14.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 59 percent from the field per game with Penarol in the Uruguayan pro league.
ESPN5.com's Sid Ventura contributed to this report.