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PBA: Ginebra faces NLEX

Games Today
(Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Mahindra vs Globalport
7 p.m. – Brgy. Ginebra vs NLEX

Two new imports make their debut in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup today even as four more ballclubs get going on Day 2 of the 41st season’s mid-conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Six-foot-10 Augustus Gilchrist will be unveiled when Mahindra takes on Globalport and ABL’s Brian Williams at 4:15 p.m., while returning reinforcements Al Thornton for NLEX and Othyus Jeffers for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel face off when the Road Warriors and the Kings clash at 7 p.m.

On opening day Wednesday, two first-timers paraded their stuff for Meralco and Blackwater. But while hulking Arinze Onuaku, without the benefit of rest and team practice after jetting in the night before the game, threw his weight around as the Bolts dimmed the Star Hotshots and former best import Denzel Bowles, 90-86, MJ Rhett may need a lot of catching up to redeem himself after the Elite fell to importless defending champion Tropang TNT, 108-102.

Six-foot-nine, 275-lb Onuaku, from Syracuse and a three-time NBA D-League All-Star, debuted with 25 points and 22 rebounds as a last-minute sub for Meralco after Malcolm Thomas, the Bolts’ original choice, hurt his knee. Rhett, out of Tennessee State, played 45:38 minutes but failed to spark up the Elite with 16 points, seven rebounds and five turnovers.

Tropang TNT was without the comebacking Ivan Johnson who was serving a one-game suspension for getting involved in a tuneup-game scuffle with Blackwater players JP Erram and Frank Golla earlier.

Gilchrist, 26, listed at 6-foot-10 from South Florida, is unpicked during the 2012 NBA draft. But gets to show global scouts what he’s got when the Enforcers battle the Batang Pier, who will be led by Williams, a former Tennessee State and San Miguel Beer standout in the Asean Basketball League.

Backing up Gilchrist for Manny Pacquiao’s Mahindra are LA Revilla, Karl Dehesa, Mark Yee and Aldrech Ramos. No confirmation has yet come from Enforcers management, however, if the eight-division world boxing champion, who is in the campaign trail for a Senate post and preparing for an upcoming fight, will be making an appearance.

Throwing their support, meanwhile, behind Williams are Batang Pier’s Terrence Romeo, Joseph Yeo, Doug Kramer, Jay Washington, Billy Mamaril and Stanley Pringle.

In the featured game, Thornton, a first round pick (14th overall) of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007, gets to entertain once more PBA fan with his high-flying act and explosiveness when the Road Warriors meet crowd darling Barangay Ginebra, now powered by former TNT import Jeffers, who boasts off stints with the Jazz, Spurs, Wizards and Timberwolves.

Thornton can expect big help from Road Warriors teammates Sean Anthony, Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva and Mac Cardona, while four squares behind Jeffers for the Kings are Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, rookie Scottie Thompson, Sol Mercado, Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter.