Six Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams plunge into action this Friday at Ynares Sports Arena Pasig City, thawing the ice on the league’s 46th season that was supposed to open last April.
At 12:30 p.m., Alaska and Blackwater raise the curtains on the new calendar year that will feature—barring major hitches—two tournaments this time around.
NLEX and Rain or Shine tangle at 3 p.m. while NorthPort and Meralco slug it out in the nightcap.
“I’m excited for all the fans that they are able to watch, finally, their favorite players and teams,” said Aces coach Jeff Cariaso, whose young cast is looking to improve from an underwhelming campaign in last year’s bubble tournament in Clark Freeport.
Coach Norman Black is just as ecstatic, though his stems from a healthier and “upgraded” Bolts roster and its chance against opposing clubs which he thinks also applied lineup improvements.
NorthPort, for instance, will now have towering big man Greg Slaughter and a fully-recovered Robert Bolick to wield come game time.
“We pretty much have the same team last year. We’ve added some players—Alvin (Pasaol), and Mac (Belo) who’s gonna be huge. And there’s Noy Baclao who’s still trying to get himself to tip-top shape. But he’s coming along very, very well,” Black said.
“I think we’ve upgraded the team as far as talent’s concerned. And hopefully the new guys would complement the old guys who were vets from last year,” he added.
No other squad, however, should draw the spotlight more than the Road Warriors who will be bannered by Kiefer Ravena, who a month ago signed with Japanese pro club Shiga Lakestars and was recently included by the team’s final roster for its upcoming B.League season.
The Road Warriors will also unveil No. 3 overall pick Calvin Oftana, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Most Valuable Player in its last season before the pandemic, whom fiery coach Yeng Guiao believes could become one of the franchise’s cornerstones in the near future.
“I’m not just a bit confident. I’m very confident. Calvin can contribute not only through his size. He’s able to do so through his energy and scoring. And he’s also a decent defender,” Guiao told the Inquirer.
“I feel like he will turn in huge contributions to this team even in his first year,” he added.
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