We continue the PBA Imports Fantasy Tournament, where we picked 24 imports from across eras and grouped them into two brackets, with eight seeded directly into the second round. The remaining 16 will duke it out in our online polls. Our writers will preview each matchup, and you get to vote for the winner here One Sports PH's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
For the third match-up, Noel Zarate previews a clash between two big men from different eras: high-scoring Larry McNeill and inside operator Jerald Honeycutt.
This battle seems to be a question of who can exert his strengths over the other. McNeill is a proven points producer with decent ball handling especially in the post up scenario. However, Honeycutt is also an excellent defender on the low block and has a heft edge over his opponent. It could come down to how McNeill can assert his craftiness while Honeycutt may use his extended range over a foe not really noted for chasing perimeter threats. Either way, this could be a matchup that could sway either way depending on who adjusts to his weakness better.
One of the most prolific imports in PBA history made his debut with Gilbey's Gin in 1979 where he partnered with another known scorer in former Seattle Supersonics forward Dean Tolson and immediately helped the new franchise to the semifinals of the Open Conference where they finished fourth. McNeill, a Marquette product who also saw action for the ABA's New York Nets and three NBA teams, became the resident reinforcement for the Palanca franchise and helped the team advance all the way to Finals in the 1982 Open Conference only to be swept by the Toyota Super Corollas-led by Andy Fields and Donnie Ray Koonce.
McNeill played one more season in the PBA for expansion team Winston Kings in 1983 and although that squad didn't go far, he went on to set a then PBA record 88 points in a 167-163 overtime win against Great Taste-eclipsing the record set by former Gilbey's teammate Lew Massey of 85 markers. In his final PBA game, McNeill made a symbolic gesture of tying his sneakers to the rim-a tribute to the Filipino fans who made his stint quite memorable.
In McNeill's four-season sortie in the PBA, he averaged 41.7 PPG-the third highest in league history behind only Crispa/Ginebra sensation Billy Ray Bates and Massey (among imports who have scored over 4,000 PBA career points).
Along the way, McNeill registered scores of 72, 69 and 66 points in his maiden voyage in 1979, a 66-point high in 1980, and 69 in 1981. He had a torrid stretch in 1982 where he came away with three 64-point outings in a three month span from September to November.
McNeill was a pokerfaced inside operator who used his height, heft and impeccable timing to fake off defenders and was unstoppable in the shaded area. His free throw percentage was also in the high 70% range. At 6'9", he was intimidating enough to change shots on the defensive end, although the records will not show him to be a rim protector. He just thrived in the low post and was just flat out prolific.
Debuting as a replacement import for the Gin Kings in the 2001 Commissioner's Cup, this burly Tulane product had just come off NBA stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers and instantly made his presence felt by bullying his way into the paint and showing a deft touch from medium range.
Honeycutt, however, would become better known with Talk n' Text after he led Phone Pals to two Finals appearances in the 2002 Commissioner's Cup and the 2005 Fiesta Conference where he also bagged two Best Import citations. He averaged 26.0 PPG, hauled in 12.0 boards and dished out 5.0 dimes in his PBA career while establishing himself as the perfect inside complement to local behemoth Asi Taulava and budding playmaker Jimmy Alapag.
Honeycutt was a team-oriented big man who created space for Taulava and multi-faceted Vic Pablo to thrive while also diffusing defenses with his strength in drive and dish plays to find wide open shooters. He was a quick study and adapted seamlessly to the systems of Bill Bayno in 2002 and Joel Banal in 2005.
The winner of this match-up faces Denzel Bowles in the second round.