TNT KaTropa, losing finalist to San Miguel Beer in the last PBA Commissioner's Cup, is banking on prep-to-pro player Jeremy Tyler in a bid to contend for the crown again in the mid-season tourney that fires off on April 22.
Alaska Milk, NLEX, Rain or Shine, San Miguel Beer and Columbian Dyip are five other teams that are introducing new faces while Meralco, GlobalPort, Barangay Ginebra, Blackwater, Phoenix Petroleum and Magnolia bring in tested imports.
The other newcomers are Alaska Milk's Antonio Campbell, NLEX's Arnett Moultrie, Rain or Shine's Reggie Johnson, San Miguel's Troy Gillenwater and Columbian Dyip's CJ Aiken.
The import returnees are Arinze Onuaku (Meralco), Malcolm White (GlobalPort), Shane Edwards (Ginebra), Jarrid Famous (Blackwater), James White (Phoenix) and Vernon Macklin (Magnolia).
Justin Brownlee, Ginebra's import in the Commissioner's Cup and the Governors' Cup last year, is likely to take over from Edwards upon the completion of his tenure with Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League.
In 2015-16, Edwards averaged 22.1 points and 11.9 rebounds with Alaska in the PBA Commissioner's Cup as an interim import. He was signed by the Aces while Rob Dozier recovered from an injury.
Edwards, 30, is listed 6-7 and saw action in two games with the Cavaliers in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was inked to a 10-day contract by Cleveland from March 12 to 21, 2014. The Cavs lost both games where Edwards played. He had two points and one rebound in 10:27 minutes against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 20, 2014. Edwards played alongside Tristan Thompson and Australia's Matthew Dellavedova at Cleveland.
Joshua Smith, the import that helped the Texters to a runner-up finish behind the Beermen last season, will also be a standby import after the completion of his stint in the current Japanese tourney.
Tyler himself has had a tour of duty in Japan, among his overseas journeys after a three-year NBA stint where he hooked up with the Golden State Warriors, the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks.
The 6-foot-10 San Diego, California native made it to the majors even without, not just college basketball, but senior year of high school play. He was the 39th overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Aiken, 27, has been in Manila practicing with Kia since March 10. He played three years at St. Joseph's University -- Meralco coach Norman Black's alma mater -- and has suited up in Poland, Australia and Canada as an import.
A tenacious shot-blocker, the 6-9 Aiken was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year in 2012. He started in 82 of 98 games at St. Joseph's, averaging 9.6 points, 5 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 30.2 minutes.
Johnson, 28, comes with outstanding championship credentials. He's played on title squads in the Netherlands, Thailand and the ABL. Johnson was honored as the ABL's Most Valuable World Import in 2016 with Mono Vampire of Thailand. The four-year University of Miami 6-10 center averaged 22.7 points and 10.8 rebounds for Mono Vampire in the ABL this season before leaving the team for undisclosed personal reasons last January. *pba.com
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