THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) kicks off its 42nd season on Sunday but even before the first basket is made at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the league eyes a potential higher level of success built around the national men’s basketball team program.
The inclusion of Gilas cadets to the 12 teams’ roster through a special draft and the surprise movement of two star players in the off-season also offers adds excitement to the coming chapter of Asia’s first professional basketball league.
PBA Chairman Mikee Romero of GlobalPort said parity will be more evident among the 12 teams, with defending champion San Miguel Beer and Governors’ Cup titlists Barangay Ginebra San Miguel emerging as favorites in the coming Philippine Cup.
“The PBA Board has prepared very well for this upcoming season and I expect there will be parity in the league now,” said Romero during the press launch of the new season on Monday at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
“All the teams’ strength are almost equal. I expect this will be a great season again,” Romero added.
PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa said the league is focused on excellence in all fronts—from the teams, players and coverage—to give the fans what they deserve.
Now on his second year at the helm, Narvasa wanted the players to reward their teams with “undying loyalty and passion to excel.”
Narvasa also called on the media “to use all available resources to cover the game, extend the coverage to the farthest corners of our land to reach new markets for the Filipino brand of basketball.”
“I have demanded unquestionable integrity, dedication to our duties, a commitment to performance and a relentless desire to constantly look for ways to improve,” Narvasa said.
There were three different champions in the 41st season with the Beermen ruling the All-Filipino tournament, Rain or Shine bagging the Commissioner’s Cup trophy and the Kings taking the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
With the Gilas cadets accommodated by the 12 teams and several amateur standouts getting the chance to play big time, Romero said there is now a “balance in the competition although there are still teams that will be there fighting for the crown.”
The Beermen will face Star at 6 p.m. after the traditional opening ceremony.
The Bolts, runner-up to Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup, tabbed rookies Ed Daquiaog and Jonathan Grey and elevated Jimmy Alapag to assistant coach.
Blackwater is also looking forward to the coming season with two blue-chip rookies, Mac Belo and Raphael Banal.
The Kings looked to have gottern deadlier with the acquisition of versatile forward Kevin Ferrer and Raymon Jamito while Star, which had a disappointing season under Jason Webb, parades a new mentor, Chito Victolero, and point guard Jio Jalalon.
Alaska is intact as it tries to deny the Beermen for the Perpetual Trophy, which is given to a team that wins three straight Philippine Cup.
Batang Pier will remain a Terrence Romeo-Stanley Pringle squad, with the addition of veterans Mike Cortez, JR Quiñahan and Mick Pennisi.