Since it entered the Philippine Basketball Association in 1979, Barangay Ginebra has brought in several reinforcements who etched their names in the history of Philippine basketball. Some of them even had 100-point performances during the Jaworski era. Each of these imports has their own playing style. Each also has earned respect from Filipino fans. Today, we will have a short recap of these remarkable imports who steered Ginebra through championships or at least leaved a legacy as entertaining and electrifying reinforcements. As a word of warning Kabarangay, the list below may seem different or may vary on who you think should be included in this roll.
Michael Hackett – 1985
Like I said earlier, these Ginebra imports are capable of scoring a hundred points in a single game. Michael Hackett was one of them. On November 21, 1985, he became the first player in PBA history to reach the century mark after bagging 103 points against Great Taste. Hackett was known as a rebounding machine who can put up big numbers on both ends of the floor. In 1986 Open Conference, he tied up with another Ginebra great Billy Ray Bates and led the team to its first franchise title.
Billy Ray Bates – 1986
As seen by many, Billy Ray Bates may arguably be the best import in PBA history. He earned the moniker “The Black Superman” as his performances during his time were almost unstoppable. His partnership with Michael Hackett in 1986 brought Ginebra its first ever title. The following year, Bates made a comeback and averaged a monstrous 54.9 points per game. Bates was hounded by controversies regarding his habits throughout his career here in the Philippines. Later in 2012, he revealed himself on few reality TV shows and news programs to seek for assistance in order for him to get back in US.
However, Bates should still be considered as one of the greatest Ginebra imports regardless of his life off the court.
Joe Ward – 1988
Back when Ginebra’s sporting name is Añejo, an American import named Joe Ward came in as a replacement to Kevin Gamble. He immediately brought impact to the team with his explosiveness earning him the nickname “Jumping Joe Ward”. During his stint in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Ward established himself as a tremendous scorer especially in his memorable games against the Shell Turbo Chargers and the San Miguel Beermen where he scored 78 and 75 points respectively.
Carlos Briggs – 1989
Not known by many, Carlos Briggs is Añejo’s own Sakuragi version. The only difference is that, this man stands only at 5-foot-11. The red-haired import is known for his scoring prowess. Well, he just averages 62.1 points a game when he was named as the league’s best import in 1989 Reinforced Conference. At the same year, he led the team to the finals but fell short against the San Miguel Beermen. I would say, Briggs, in his physical and game aspect, has a bit of resemblance to Dennis Rodman but is much more reliable in his offensive skills. Jervis Cole – 1991In 1991, when Rudy Distrito delivered his game heroics, another unsung hero made one memorable stoppage that paved the way for Ginebra to another championship title. He is none other than Jervis Cole, Ginebra’s reinforcement in 1991 PBA First Conference. The 6-foot-5 Cole has been known for his athleticism. In the 1991 Finals where Ginebra faced the late Bobby Parks and the rest of the Shell Rimula X, Jervis Cole lifted up Ginebra to a historic 3-1 deficit comeback. As we all remember, Distrito’s last second fade away gave Ginebra the lead but it was Jervis Cole who made the last defensive stop against Ronnie Magsanoc’s jumper which could have won the series. That was indeed memorable.
Wes Matthews – 1991
Wes Matthews came into the PBA with his NBA credentials. He played as a support cast for the former Lakers superstar Magic Johnson in 1987-1988. His NBA credentials were proven when he was awarded as the Best Import and led Ginebra into a titile run but Ginebra fell short against the powerhouse lineup of Alaska which then includes Jojo Lastimosa and Sean Chambers.
Henry James – 1996
Henry James is another NBA veteran who served as Ginebra import. The former Cleveland Cavalier is known for his streaky outside shooting. In his first game with Ginebra, he scored 48 points against the Mobiline with the aid of rookie standouts Marlou Aquino and Bal David. James drove Ginebra on a knockout game against Shell where they eventually loss.
Chris King – 1997
Chris King is also an addition to the long list of Ginebra imports that first played in the NBA. In 1997, when Ginebra used Gordon’s Gin Boars as its sporting name, King helped the Boars to regain the title after a six-year title drought. He is one of the most well-known imports of Ginebra back in the 90’s.
Rossel Ellis – 2003
Rossel Ellis is a 6-foot-6 lefty who first came into the PBA as Pop Cola’s import before joining Ginebra in 2003. Ellis was known for his relentless efforts inside the paint. No wonder why he got the moniker “Mr. Everything”. Ellis is also respected as a locked down defender.
Torraye Braggs – 2004
Torraye Braggs is a former Xavier University cager who was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round of 1998 NBA Draft. He was acquired by Ginebra in 2004 Fiesta Conference where he lifted the “Never Say Die” team to reach the finals after finishing only as the 7th seed at the end of the eliminations. With his entry as import, Braggs helped Ginebra to end their 7-year title drought as they battled Red Bull Thunder in a best of five finals series which they won in four games. Braggs was also a workhorse inside the shaded lane together with Eric Menk and the superstar guards Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand.
Chris Porter – 2006
Chris Porter came to Ginebra as an import replacement for Shamp Lampley in 2006 PBA Fiesta Conference. Although he failed to bring Ginebra its most desired title, Porter became remarkable for his athleticism and his intensity inside the court. In the playoffs of the said conference, Porter and the Kings fell short against the Red Bull Barako.
Rod Nealy – 2007
Rod Nealy is one of the most agile and athletic Ginebra imports I’ve seen. His dribbling ability and shifty moves towards the basket is truly amazing. The Houston, Texas native provided the scoring for the Gin Kings who had a depleted lineup when Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Eric Menk played for the Philippine National Team. Nealy pushes Ginebra to the quarterfinals where they faced their sister team rivals San Miguel Beermen.
Chris Alexander – 2008
Mr. Toothpick. Chris Alexander is my personal choice on this list. During the 2008 Fiesta Conference, Ginebra had a slow start with 0-5 standings. They replaced the first two imports with the 7-footer Chris Alexander. Immediately after he joined Ginebra, Alexander carried the team to a blazing ten wins out of thirteen games. Ginebra eventually went on to the finals against Air21. Alexander also had clutch performances in the series especially in Game 7 where he played with cramps hounding his legs to lead Ginebra in bringing home the title. Alexander was also named as the Best Import at that year.
David Noel – 2009
David Noel is one of the most athletic Ginebra imports in the past decade. The former NBA forward who played for the Bucks and Clippers showed his leaping ability and amazed the fans when he won 2009 PBA Slam Dunk Contest. Noel also brought Ginebra in the Finals against the San Miguel Beermen. However, the Kings again fell short against their known nemesis in a tight 7-game final series where the Beermen became the eventual champions.
Nate Brumfield – 2011
Nate Brumfield played for Ginebra in the 2011 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. He is a type of player who’s always ready to bang his body with the taller guys inside the paint. Brumfield, at his size and height, has the ability to bring down the ball and penetrate towards the basket. Brumfield was also awarded as the league’s Best Import. However, Ginebra fell short again at the Finals against the powerful Talk N’ Text who’s led by Paul Harris.
Jackson Vroman - 2012 – Oohhh, this might be a typographical error. You may disregard this one. lol
Cedric Bozeman – 2012
Cedric Bozeman is one of the simplest Ginebra imports I’ve seen in the past ten years. This guy has a great basketball IQ and smooth slashing moves. He played for Ginebra as a point guard along with Jayjay Helterbrand. Bozeman is also memorable for his winning looper on the sideline against the Petron Blaze Boosters. Ginebra eventually went on the Semi-Finals but was defeated by the Llamados in a one-game playoff for the 2nd finals berth.
Vernon Macklin – 2013
Vernon Macklin is a product of University of Florida and was selected by the Pistons in the 2011 NBA Draft. Macklin immediately gained the love of Ginebra fans for the reason that he carried the team after a forgettable 0-4 start with the import he replaced, Herbert Hill. The 6-foot-ten American was given the moniker V-Mack by the fans because of his electrifying dunks and alley hoops from Ginebra point guard L.A. Tenorio. Ginebra advanced to the Quarter Finals and faced the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters who carries a twice to beat advantage. But the most popular ball club lived with their “Never Say Die” spirit by surpassing the Elasto Painters in two straight games. In the Semis, Ginebra again faced a powerhouse team Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters in a best of five series. Again, V-Mack dominated the game and led his team into its first final appearance since 2011. Ginebra went on to the Finals against the 1stseeded Alaska. Unfortunately, Macklin suffered an injury which slowed him down. Alaska took advantage of the situation and won the title. V-Mack, however, would remain on the list of greatest Ginebra imports and the fans hope that he will come back for Ginebra in the nearest future. Forgive me Kabarangay if there are some imports who were not included in the list, please feel free to mention them below in the comment section so that we can all be familiar who are missing on the list.