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.
Justin Brownlee handily out-polled fellow do-it-all import Kenny Redfield of our fan-run Fantasy Tournament in the first round. Brownlee accumulated 73 percent of the votes over Redfield, which isn't a surprise given the popularity of the Ginebra import these days. While many voters argued Redfield's statistical brilliance of notching triple-doubles with ease, the memories of Brownlee's game saving, championship winning heroics clearly won out.
In the second round, Brownlee matches up with arguably the most successful PBA import ever in Sean Chambers. A rival in terms of legend, stats, and accolades, the Brownlee-Chambers matchup should be a more tightly contested affair.
Like Brownlee, the then-24 year old Chambers came into the league as a replacement import for the Alaska Air Force in the 1989 Open Conference. Unlike Brownlee though, Chmabers could only manage to guide Alaska to a semifinal finish before returning in the Reinforced Conference later that year for a similar result. Despite not winning a championship immediately, Chambers was seen as a winner and practically coined the term 'resident import' in the next decade.
A gifted athlete, Chambers is a Hall of Famer in his college, Cal Poly. Prior to his time in the Philippines, the reliable reinforcement averaged 18.3 points per game in his senior year and accumulated 531 points -- which is good for sixth all-time in a single season for Cal Poly.
During his PBA run from the 1989 to 2001 seasons, Chambers collected six championship rings and was named the second ever 'Mr. 100 Percent' in league history. The Alaska great racked up career numbers of 30.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, but shockingly only managed a single Best Import Award nod.
Despite standing a shade over 6'1", Chambers was a consistent performer even in the conferences where he faced significant height disadvantages. A classic example was during the 1996 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals against upstarts Shell, when Chambers had to battle that conference's Best Import awardee Kenny Redfield. Chambers was a late replacement for the Milkmen and had to overcome a four inch height disadvantage over Redfield.
Even as a short import, Chambers routinely showcased his athleticism and could play above the rim. The Alaska reinforcement used his functional athleticism on both defense and offense, being able to battle for rebounds and be the first man up for tip-ins. Chambers' longevity is a testament to his hand-in-glove fit with then-longtime Alaska head coach Tim Cone. The seasoned mentor raved numerous times about how coachable and selfless Chambers was throughout his career. It also helped that Chambers was solid on both ends of the floor, being solid on defense and running Cone's offense almost instinctively.
MATCHING UP WITH MAGIC BROWNLEE
There are many similarities between the two. Both imports flourished with coach Tim Cone, both played as undersized imports in the Commissioner's Cup and actually won it, and both had the reputation for being extremely coachable. The pair also had similar statistical profiles with Brownlee's averages of 29.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 6.6 assists -- when he finished runner-up to Allen Durham in the 2019 Governors' Cup Best Import race -- closely mirroring Chambers' career numbers.
The key difference lies in the achievements, with Chambers accumulating six PBA Championships -- including the 1996 Grand Slam -- between his start in 1989 and retirement in 2001. Brownlee though is hot on Chambers' trail with four champions in four years since 2016.
Perhaps a product of the more free-flowing basketball played today, Brownlee's explosiveness on the offensive end stands out compared to his Alaska counterpart. While Chambers was also a specimen of an athlete in his prime, Brownlee's quickness and strength on offense combined with a three-inch height advantage is staggering.
Still, Chambers is used to be playing as literally the smaller man. The Alaska icon's smarts would be put on display on the defensive end, and he wouldn't be afraid to take it to Brownlee despite the physical disadvantages. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise if Chambers challenged Brownlee at the rim.
Chambers' greatest challenge would be keeping Brownlee's offensive arsenal in check. Brownlee's threat from beyond the arc should be a concern, but Chambers should be able to close out and make the Ginebra reinforcement work from the inside.
Both imports are workhorses on the court, fighting for every single possession in what should be an exciting matchup. The difference could lie in which player could execute the best late in the game, with both greats showing they can perform in high pressure situations.
While fans voted Brownlee as the winner in the first round via a blowout, this matchup should encourage a healthy debate about these two iconic imports. Very similar in many ways and the gold standard of imports for their respective franchises.
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