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Blackwater, SMB expect imports to carry load in Terrific 12

Former PBA best import Marqus Blakely has joined Blackwater for the Terrific 12 tournament. PBA Media Bureau

Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan expects the Elite to play fast-paced basketball with the arrival of former PBA Best Import Marqus Blakely on Sunday.

Arriving in Manila Sunday morning, the 6-foot-4 Blakely took a brief rest before joining the Elite's 10 a.m. practice at the Reyes gym. The team made its final preparation for the 2019 East Asia Super League Terrific 12 and will leave for Macau on Monday afternoon.

"He (Blakely) will bring his experience and his inside out plays for us and with his arrival, we will be more of a high octane basketball team," Dimaunahan told ESPN5 on Sunday.

Blakely is filling in the shoes of Aaron Fuller, who suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain recently in practice.

Blackwater team governor Silliman Sy said results from the ultrasound scan revealed Fuller's sprain and a partial ligament tear. Doctors recommended Fuller to undergo an intensive and structured rehabilitation program, which will take him about three weeks to recover.

For now, Dimaunahan is focused on the upcoming Terrific 12 tournament where Blackwater is in the same group as 2017 Super 8 Basketball champion Chiba Jets and two-time Korean Basketball League champion Seoul SK Knights.

The Elite will take on the SK Knights when play begins on Tuesday. The Knights will be reinforced by NBA G League veteran Jameel Warney, the 2018 season First Team member.

The 25-year-old American forward should contribute big numbers for the SK Knights. Warney averaged 18.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 133 career games split between the Texas Legends and Westchester Knicks of the NBA G League.

The Elite have the size to match up against the tall SK Knights side as 6-foot-10 Alex Stepheson will be patrolling the shaded lane, along with Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Chris Javier and James Sena.

Rookie Bobby Ray Parks and Mike DiGregorio are expected to supply the scoring, along with Mac Belo and guard Roi Sumang.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria said the team will rely on reinforcements Lester Prosper and Dez Wells, with Fil-German Christian Standhardinger helping out at frontcourt.

The Beermen won't have their two veteran stars June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter, who are currently recovering from injuries.

The 6-10 Fajardo sustained an ankle sprain during the group stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. But the five-time PBA MVP played through the injury by taking painkillers for the duration of Gilas' games.

Austria speaks highly of Wells, the 27-year-old guard, who had stints with the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA G League.

"He's more of a slasher, and he's got a decent perimeter game too and a good defender," Austria said of Wells, who will also serve as San Miguel's import for the 2019 Governors' Cup.

The eight-time PBA champion coach said the Terrific 12 will be a good test for Wells considering that the Beermen are going all out in their effort to win the Governors' Cup crown to complete the franchise's second Grand Slam.

San Miguel won its first Grand Slam title in 1989 when the team was still coached by Norman Black.

The Beermen kick off their maiden participation in the Terrific 12 by taking on the Shenzhen Aviators on Tuesday. SMB closes its group stage match on Thursday against Terrific 12 champion Ryukyu Golden Kings.

TNT is the the third PBA team joining the tournament in Macau.

Coming off a runner-up stint behind the Beermen in the Commissioner's Cup, the Katropa will have NBA veteran KJ McDaniels and McKenzie Moore as their imports.

The Katropa are in Group D with Chinese squad Liaoning Flying Leopards and Niigata Albirex Basketball of the Japan B League.