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 match-up, and you get to vote for the winner here and on One Sports PH's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
For the final matchup in Round 1, Jan Ballesteros previews a battle between two Best Import awardees who led their respective decorated franchises to the promised land.
Marqus Blakely and Lamont Strothers are two prolific and battle-tested reinforcements who thrived in pressure-packed stretches. They also proved time and again that they were winners.
Lamont Strothers made a living playing basketball overseas and basked in glory when he suited up for the San Miguel Beermen from 1996 to 2002.
Drafted in the second round of the 1991 NBA Draft, Strothers played scantily for the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, posting a measly career average of 4.6 points. Golden State Warriors originally tabbed him 43rd overall - the highest for a player from an NCAA Division III school - before being shipped to Portland.
While his NBA career didn't pan out, playing only in combined 13 games, the 6-foot-5 Strothers dazzled fans in Manila by putting up numerous performances to remember for the Beermen.
A one-time Best Import awardee, Strothers was one of the league's most prolific imports thanks to his explosiveness that allowed him to finish at the rim at will in a myriad of ways.
The former Christopher Newport standout was also deadly from the 3-point range. He registered 325 made triples in five years, the most by any import until Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee surpassed that record in January.
The 6-foot-5 import, who scored over 3900 points in seven conferences, led the decorated franchise to two championships, while playing alongside cage legends like Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim.
Tim Cone, the coach with most championships in PBA history, has always had an eye for imports who have gone on to become winners. As a neophyte Alaska mentor, he brought in Sean Chambers and we all know how that story turned out. In 2016, he pushed Ginebra back to the top by fielding now resident import Justin Brownlee.
You can also add Marqus Blakely to that list.
Winner of the 2013 Governors' Cup Best Import award, Blakely is best remembered for helping Cone's San Mig Coffee (now Magnolia) complete a rare Grand Slam in the 2014 season. Powered by a local cast that included the Big 3 of James Yap, Marc Pingris, and PJ Simon, and reinforced by Blakely, the Coffee Mixers got the better of Rain or Shine in the thrilling Governors' Cup finale to become just the fifth team in PBA history to win a treble.
With the 6-foot-5 Blakely in tow, the franchise reached the finals in his first conference in 2012 before finally lording over the 2013 and 2014 Governors' Cup, respectively.
It's easy to understand why he had as much success early in his PBA career. Dubbed Mr. All Around, the former Vermont skipper could really do everything: score, put the clamps on the opposing team's best player, create for his teammates, and grab rebounds. His boundless energy inside the court was infectious.
His succeeding stints in the PBA (Star Hotshots in 2016, TNT, Blackwater), were relatively forgettable, however. But it's refreshing to see glimpses of the old Blakely during some stretches. In his second game for the Elite in 2019, he registered 13 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and eight blocks.
Who wins this matchup? Cast your vote below or on our Facebook page.