The PBA best import question



I just read an InterAKTV column on how a couple of PBA legends think that Billy Ray Bates is the best PBA import ever.

The man dubbed as The Black Superman because of his jam-infested plays is back in Manila and has apparently landed a coaching role with the Asian Basketball League’s Philippine Patriots. After accepting his Hall of Fame award at the 2011-12 PBA Season opening ceremonies, Bates went on to ambush Mico Halili and Jason Webb’s halftime report by speaking heartfelt lines on how he wants to thank the people that supported him and how he wants to become a coach in the PBA.

Here’s the thing – how can I lay waste the wordings of Hall of Famers Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Bogs Adornado, and Ricky Brown? I mean they played in the time when conditioning hasn’t been that important and it’s a sin for an import to score less than 30 points. 

However, I was born on 1982 (yes I’m that old) and I watch my first PBA game at around 1988 (I was a Purefoods fan back then). The only time I saw Bates in action was when he was a shell of his former self with the La Tondena franchise (I think they were named Anejo then). I know Bates averaged 54.9 points with Ginebra but I was born in an era where imports average less than 40 points a night. I’m talking about imports like Lamont Strothers, Winston Crite, Ronnie Grandison, Ken Redfield, Ronnie Thompkins, Michael Phelps, Kenny Travis, Lambert Shell, Devin Davis, Derrick Canada, Derek Hamilton, John Best, Terq Mott, Ansu Sesay, Tony Lang, Jerald Honeycutt and a whole lot.

I’m going to set my pick on the imports I know and I remember the fondest.

My favorite import of all-time is Sean Chambers. I was an Alaska fan back when they had Merwin Castelo, Kevin Ramas, and Rhoel Gomez on their lineup. However, Chambers wasn’t really a scorer. In fact he was not even a big-time rebounder. Barely standing 6’3, Sean The Man doesn’t have an outside shot. Over the years, his scoring averages diminished. However, he knows how the blend well with Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins, Jojo Lastimosa, Jeffrey Cariaso, Kenneth Duremdes, and Poch Juinio. He was a very big factor in the 1996 Grand Slam feat of the Milkmen when he both played in the Commissioner’s and Governor’s Cups.

Tony Harris once shot the lights off whatever arena he’s in, including the record-holding 105 points he scored when Swift clashed with Ginebra in 1992. Harris gave the Mighty Meaties credibility in he was the team’s first taste of growth. However, Swift gained team 90’s success with Thompkins, Grandison, and Steven Smith.

In what year did Harris hooked up with actress Ilonah Jean?

Hmm...

Norman Black had a halftime segment. He was the reason why I wore Burlington socks on my elementary years. This is a reason why he is right on the dot as a coach after he retired as a player for San Miguel and Ateneo.

How can he NOT be the best import of all-time?

Black and Chambers are the only recipients of the 100 percent performance award. Black also helped Great Taste, San Miguel, Tefilin, and Magnolia have respectable conferences.  Basically the two-time best import is one of the best things that ever happened in Philippine Basketball.

But hey, Norman Black just ties up Billy Ray Bates’ two-time best import award – which is the same number as Redfield, Honeycutt, Derrick Brown, and Gabe Freeman.

However... I think the best import for me is Bobby Parks.

I am not a die-hard Shell fan but you can be sure that the Turbo Chargers are a tough team to crack with the triumvirate of Parks, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Benjie Paras.


First of all, check out the Best Import conferences of Bobby Parks:
(note: SEASON – TEAM – PLACING)

1987 – SAN MIGUEL – CHAMPION
1988 – SHELL – RUNNER-UP
1989 – SHELL – RUNNER-UP
1990 – SHELL (FIRST CONFERENCE) – CHAMPION
1990 – SHELL (THIRD CONFERENCE) – THIRD PLACE
1991 – SHELL – RUNNER-UP
1992 – SHELL – CHAMPION


Three titles and three runner-up finishes is awesome especially for an import. Also for an import, Parks is extremely durable. Parks played in 13 seasons and 221 games in the league trailing only Norman Black and Sean Chambers. While we saw Parks’ diminishing play as the years go on, Parks was valuable in other aspects. It is his dedication to the Philippine style of play that kept Parks in the country which eventually led to the fathering of future PBA star Bobby Ray Parks.


Here are the stats of Parks compared to the other players:

BOBBY PARKS
13 SEASONS – 221 GAMES – 40.5PPG – 15.2RPG – 5.4APG

NORMAN BLACK
9 SEASONS – 282 GAMES – 40.1PPG – 18.9RPG – 4.2APG

BILLY RAY BATES
4 SEASONS – 98 GAMES – 46.2PPG – 12.4RPG – N/A

SEAN CHAMBERS
13 SEASONS – 270 GAMES – 30.5PPG – 12.0RPG – 4.7APG


So maybe we can say that Black has better overall averages than either Parks or Bates because of his impressive rebounding average. But then again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Bates is a basketball demigod in the country and his presence gives awe to people. Black is for the all-around performance he brings to the team he has played in while Chambers is your man if you want to have a player that will give all he can give despite his deficiencies.

With all due respect to the fans and supporters of Bates, Black, and Chambers (SEAN IS THE MAN), I’m going to give my vote to the seven-time best import. 

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Game over.

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