THE scheduled Philippine Basketball Association double header today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum will feature four teams making their debut and are out to jumpstart their campaign in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
GlobalPort Batang Pier collide with Mahindra Floodbuster at 4:15 p.m. while the Alaska Aces face off with the NLEX Road Warriors at 7 p.m.
Infusing new faces in the roster, GlobalPort hopes to duplicate or even surpass the success it had in the same tournament last year where it reached the semifinals.
To help the Batang Pier in their push, the team added Mike Cortez, Rey Guevarra, JR Quiñahan and Mick Pennisi in its fold. Rookie and Gilas cadet member Von Pessumal is also with the team now.
The new additions are hoped to aid stalwarts Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle in making GlobalPort more competitive anew after struggling in the last two conferences where it labored at the bottom of the standings.
While it showed marked improvement to finish its campaign last season, Mahindra, for its part, saw it fit to make adjustments in its roster, letting go of some key pieces that helped in their past campaigns.
Now known at the Floodbuster, Mahindra boasts of a mix of young and veteran players who are out to show they belong in the local pro league.
Suiting up for Mahindra from other teams previously include Alex Mallari, Ryan Araña and Josan Nimes with rookies Joseph Eriobu and Reden Celda part of the crew as well.
They join holdovers LA Revilla, Mark Yee and Jason Ballesteros.
“We are expecting new challenges anew with our lineup but we will work on the pieces that we have and try to be competitive,” said coach Chris Gavina, deputy to playing coach Manny Pacquiao.
Alaska, meanwhile, is parading a “healthy” lineup to start the Philippine Cup, something it feels bullish about.
Finished runners-up in each of the last two editions of the tournament, the Aces are angling to finally break through and lift the All-Filipino trophy on the strength of its core of players led by veterans Calvin Abueva, Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel, Sonny Thoss, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros and JVee Casio as well young guns Kevin Racal, Rome Dela Rosa and rookie Carl Bryan Cruz.
With an intact lineup, the Alex Compton-coached Aces are short listed as title contenders in the ongoing tournament.
Bringing in champion coach Yeng Guiao, NLEX is out to break its middling and underachieving ways that have marked their young PBA existence so far.
Mr. Guiao is being counted on to infuse the needed fire and winning mind-set to the Road Warriors, much like what he did for the Rain or Shine franchise previously.
The new NLEX coach will work on a collection of holdovers and newbies which include Asi Taulava, Kevin Alas, Sean Anthony, Garvo Lanete, Rico Villanueva, Bradwyn Guinto, Carlo Lastimosa and Alfonso Gotladera.
NLEX ended up at seventh place in last year’s Philippine Cup.