Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – TNT vs NLEX
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska
Replacement imports led by Rain or Shine’s Wayne Chism are set to invade the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight for the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Chism hopes to make an immediate impact in his second tour of duty as the Elasto Painters take on the Alaska Aces, who will now be led by former NBA journeyman Damion James.
That match is set at 7 p.m. – the first meeting of both teams since the Aces won the semifinals of the Philippine Cup. Before that, ex-Atlanta Hawk Ivan Johnson will be unveiled as the new reinforcement of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters against the sister team NLEX Road Warriors at 4:15 p.m.
The three players are looking to prove that their respective teams won’t regret their decisions to send home their original imports.
Of the three, Chism is no stranger to playing in the league. He led Rain or Shine to the semifinals of last season’s Commissioner’s Cup after replacing Alex McLean.
Chism was supposed to start the conference for Rain or Shine but failed to secure a clearance from his club team in Israel.
ROS eventually tapped Rick Jackson as import but management eventually decided to sign Chism, who was later released by his Israeli club.
Elasto Painters Coach Yeng Guiao said he doesn’t see any problem with Chism fitting in to the team since he knows the system and his teammates having played for ROS in this same conference last season.
“He’s very familiar with the system, so I don’t think there will be serious problem regarding that,” said Guiao of Chism, who averaged 22.7 points and 13.3 rebounds last season.
“He’s very fit, he’s fresh from a tournament in Israel. The only concern is the weather since he came from Europe, which is very cold, and the time difference. We’ll see that in the game, but hopefully he’s adjusted already since he’s been practicing with the team since Monday.”
The Painters are coming off a 78-71 win against the defending champion Purefoods Star Hotshots in Dipolog City last Saturday, with Jackson going out in style.
While the 6-foot-8 Jackson gave ROS the inside presence as he averaged 19.4 points and 16.2 rebounds, he proved to be too slow a player to keep up with the running game of the Painters.
However, with Chism, Guiao said they return to the run-and-gun style and still allow the import to post up if needed.
“You’ll see the difference with Jackson, who needed to take his spot at the low block before we can set up with our offense, something that – with Wayne – we could go at our natural pace,” said Guiao.
Out to spoil Chism’s return are the Aces, who plans to give James a rousing start to his PBA journey.
James, who replaced DJ Covington, played three seasons for the New Jersey Nets/Brooklyn Nets before becoming a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ championship team last season (although he didn’t play in the NBA Finals). He averaged 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in four NBA seasons.
Like ROS, Alaska is looking to ride on the crest of its vengeful 107-100 win over San Miguel Beer last Tuesday in the rematch of their Philippine Cup Finals last month. The Aces, however, are expected to once again miss the services of injured players Jvee Casio and Sonny Thoss.
Meanwhile, Johnson carries impressive credentials for TNT, having suited up for the Hawks from 2011-2013. He averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 125 career NBA games.
TNT opted to replace Howell for Johnson despite holding the league’s second-best record at 4-1. The Tropang Texters beat the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 104-103, last Sunday.
NLEX nailed its first win last Tuesday, 106-79, over Blackwater as import Al Thornton sizzled for 39 points and 15 rebounds.