It’s going to be anybody’s ballgame when the Philippine Basketball Association unwraps its Season 48 on 5 November at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Rain or Shine, the last independent team to win a PBA title, declared readiness to mix it up with the big guns while Phoenix Super LPG and Blackwater boosted their respective chances by recruiting players who could help them win their championship.
Elasto Painters governor Mamerto Mondragon said they consider themselves among the contenders not only because veteran tactician Yeng Guiao will be at the helm for one full season but because of the presence of the quality players they selected during the Annual Rookie Draft.
Leading the new faces in the Rain or Shine squad are Luis Villegas and Keith Datu, who were selected third and fourth in the recent draft, as well as Sherwin Concepcion, a cold-blooded gunner from University of Santo Tomas and Nueva Ecija in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
They will be led by National Basketball Association veteran DaJuan Summers as reinforcement.
The 35-year-old Summers had been impressive in the pre-season but is now being rested after suffering a calf strain that forced him to miss the second half of their exhibition game against Converge and completely miss their friendly against Blackwater.
“I think we can now consider ourselves as among the contenders and we can compete with anyone,” Mondragon said during the press launch of the brand-new season on Tuesday at the Diamond Hotel.
Guiao admitted that Summers is really impressive.
“You can see that he’s really a veteran,” Guiao said.
“His decision-making is really fine tuned. He’s skilled. He has a three-point shot, he has a post-up game. He’s a natural leader and very coachable.”
“We feel that we just need to put him in the best physical shape in terms of his conditioning and his calf issue. But he’s really a good fit for our team.”
Phoenix governor Raymond Zorilla also has a good reason to stay upbeat, especially with four new players in Ken Tuffin, Raffy Verano, Ricci Rivero and Matthew Daves joining their roster with Johnathan Williams serving as import.
“We will be there fighting, regardless, whichever team we’re facing,” Zorilla said.
“All the teams had bolstered their line ups. We’re a young team and all we need to do is run. But we will give all the other teams a run for their money.”
Blackwater governor Silliman Sy, meanwhile, sees a new culture developing within the team following the appointment of Jefferey Cariaso as head coach.
“He’s bringing a new type of culture to the team, but the new culture will not happen overnight. It’s a process,” Sy said.
“He’s doing well and our import is a veteran of the World Cup and he’s also doing well.”
Chris Ortiz, who played for the Puerto Rican national team in the recent FIBA Basketball World Cup, will reinforce the Bossing while former Butler standout Christian David leads their new acquisitions.
Aside from Rain or Shine, Phoenix, and Blackwater, Magnolia will be parade Tyler Bey as import, Terrafirma will bank on Thomas Hugo de Thaey, NLEX on Thomas Robinson, TNT Tropang Giga on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, San Miguel Beer on Tyler Stone, Converge on Tom Vodanovich, and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Justin Brownlee.
Meralco and NorthPort, however, have yet to formally name their reinforcements.