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Tough task awaits TNT

A souped-up field including new teams Blackwater Red President and J&T Express, will try to give an intact TNT side a run for its money as Season 2 of the Philippine Basketball Association 3×3 formally opens on Saturday at Robinsons Place in Antipolo.

Past leg champions Meralco and Purefoods beefed up their respective rosters in a bid to keep pace with the Tropang Giga in the opening leg of the season’s First Conference featuring a total of 12 teams.

Opening day will feature a total of 12 games to be kicked off by the clash between Cavitex and Pioneer Elastoseal beginning at 11 a.m.

The 12 teams have been divided into four groups of three teams each, with the top two from each group advancing outright to the knockout stage to be played on Sunday at the same venue.

Getting a lift after Limitless App and Sista Super Sealers decided to take a leave of absence, the Bolts of coach Patrick Fran tweaked their lineup by adding Leo De Vera and Kenneth Mocon to go with regulars Alfred Batino and Tonino Gonzaga.

De Vera and Mocon previously suited up for the Super Sealers, while adding another Sista player in Joseph Manlangit and former Appmaster guard Reymar Caduyac as part of the team reserve.

The Titans, on the other hand, kept the services of top gun Joseph Eriobu, but acquired the former Platinum Karaoke duo of JR Alabanza and Chris De Chavez, and tapped Ronnie De Leon from their PBA 5-on-5 team.

The rigodon of players obviously is in line of competing against the favored Tropang Giga of coach Mau Belen, who retained the core of Almond Vosotros, Samboy de Leon, and Lervin Flores to go with guard Ping Exciminiano.

Vosotros, De Leon, and Flores were part of the Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 team along with Eriobu that finished a strong fourth in the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup last July in Singapore.

The Tropang Giga also emerged grand champion of Season 1 Third Conference.

“For me, Samboy, Lervin, and even Eriobu, we gained good experience when we competed there (FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup). I hope we can bring that experience and translate it to victories when we compete in the PBA 3×3,” said Vosotros, the scoring champion of the inaugural season.

“All of the teams are strong. I’m sure we will have a tough time defending our title.”

Blackwater and J&T Express, meanwhile, are also out to make a statement in their respective debuts in the standalone tournament.

The Red President will be handled by Junjie Ablan and parade players Prince Rivero, Jeff Javillonar, Alfrancis Tamsi, and Richard Escoto from their 5-on-5 team, while the Express of coach Ryan Monteclaro are bannered by Robin Rono, Robert Datu, Joseph Sedurifa and Marvin Hayes.

Completing the Season 2 cast are Barangay Ginebra, Cavitex Braves, who acquired Jorey Napoles, Second Conference grand champion Pioneer Elastoseal Katibays, NorthPort Batang Pier, a rejigged Platinum Karaoke team, Terrafirma 3×3, and the San Miguel Beermen.

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