(Ynares Center Antipolo)
4:30 p.m. — Converge vs Magnolia
6:45 p.m. — San Miguel Beer vs Phoenix Super LPG
Two more crack teams, San Miguel Beer and Magnolia, see action for the first time today in the hopes of carrying their good run from the previous conference into the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
The Beermen, who lost to visiting Bay Area in the best-of-five semifinal series of the Commissioner’s Cup, take on Phoenix Super LPG in the main game at 6:45 p.m. right after the curtain-raiser starring Magnolia and streaking Converge at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday’s double header will be played at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
San Miguel will start its campaign under new head coach Jorge Gallent, who was recently tasked to take over the spot of Leo Austria.
A nine-time PBA champion coach, Austria requested San Miguel management to take a sabbatical in coaching, which led to Gallent being named head coach.
But Gallent is no stranger to coaching, having served as a pinch-hitter when Austria was placed under health and safety protocols and leading the Beermen deep into the playoffs.
A many-time champion coach of Harbour Centre in the now defunct Philippine Basketball League, Gallent also coached the old Purefoods franchise when the team was known as Derby Ace Llamados.
Gallent knows the high expectations of the management, but he is more than willing to step up to the plate.
“Management would demand high expectations, but it will also give you 100 percent support, so there’s a balance in everything,” Gallent said.
According to Gallent, he will only make a few changes in the team’s previous system under Austria and integrate some of the things he feels will benefit the squad.
“We just kept the things that worked for us and ditched the things that didn’t work and integrate some of the things I want to do for the team,” Gallent added.
Aside from the appointment of Gallent, San Miguel also made some key changes prior to the start of the conference, shipping out reinforcement Marcus Weathers, who was immediately picked up by NorthPort, and opted to get returning import Cameron Clark.
Clark previously saw action for NLEX last season when the team made its way to the semifinal round of the Governors’ Cup.
The Beermen also added another key piece in Allyn Bulanadi, a former player of Gilas Plipinas, who previously saw action for Alaska and Converge.
For Magnolia, it’s going to be an early acid test facing Converge, one of the hottest teams in the tournament.
The FiberXers had won their first two games and averaged 126 points per game and this will be a good test for the defensive skills of the Hotshots, who made a good reputation by becoming one of the best stoppers in the league.
Bringing in two imports in the past two games was not a problem for the FiberXers as both Ethan Rusbatch and his replacement reinforcement, Jamaal Franklin had provided the squad a victory.
The Hotshots will bring in Eric McCree, measured 6-foot-5 3/8, who also had a brief stint playing for the Utah Jazz, but spent the past three years playing in the European circuit.