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PBA back in action

  • Written by Arman Carandang
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 436

JUST give your best and something good will happen.

That’s what San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria often told his Beermen the past few days leading to today’s start of the Philippine Cup, kickoff conference of the PBA’s 42nd season.

“Kami naman laro lang, always give our best,” said Austria.

“Hindi na dapat namin isipin na kailangan ganito o kailangan na ganyan. Basta naman ibinigay mo yung best mo, something good will happen.”

The Beermen open their campaign for third straight title in the All-Filipino conference with a game against sister team Star Hotshots at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The day’s lone game is set at 6:15 p.m. following the traditional parade of teams and their respective muses highlighting the simple opening ceremony set to start at 4 p.m.
   
Austria would not even pay much attention to SMB being installed as the team to beat this season, more so in the All-Filipino which they are defending for the third time.
   
Everybody knows the reason why SMB is such a tough team to beat in the All-Filipino which the Beermen won for second straight last season via a historic comeback from 0-3 in the best-of-7 series against Alaska.
   
“Kasama naman talaga yung pressure e, andyan naman yan palagi,” said Austria, who was PBAPC’s Coach of the Year for second straight season.
   
The very core of that back-to-back All-Filipino SMB champion is very much intact, with June Mar Fajardo, arguably the most dominant center to ever make the pro league, at the forefront of the Beermen’s formidable frontline composed of Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross.
   
Only Ryan Arana was gone from last year’s championship unit.
   
The league’s most successful team in terms of championship won also also tabbed quality players from recent draft to boost its roster — Arnold Van Opstal and Rashawn McCarthy – and acquired veteran shooting guards in RR Garcia and Keith Agovida from trades.
   
More than anything else, the one big motivation that could very well push the Beermen to work harder is the lure of a third straight All-Filipino title which only Talk ‘N Text had done.
   
The Beermen will have their real acid test right on opening day as they will be up against Star Hotshot team that’s sporting a new look under new coach Chito Victolero.
   
If the Beermen were used to playing the Hotshots before, they could expect a different brand of play this time, and Victolero said he has been trying to perfect a new system for the Hotshots.
   
“We need to improve our chemistry because we have new system and new players. Medyo dyan naka focus yung mga ginagawa ko ngayon,”  Victolero told People’s Journal/Tonight yesterday.
   
“Regarding with our game on Sunday (today), it’s a tough game for us but we are positive we can compete against SMB. We need to be consistent on defense and play hard for 48 minutes,” added Victolero, who replaced Jason Webb during off season.
   
“I’m very happy and thankful sa opportunity na binigay sa ‘tin ni Lord, and trust ng management sa akin and to my system,’ he said. “I work hard to improve the Star Hotshots team and to achieve our goal we need to work together as a team.”
   
After today’s one-game affair, the league resumes on Wednesday with the regular double-header where Blackwater and Phoenix  will clash in the first game at 4:15 p.m. followed by the collision of Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine in the main game at 7 p.m. also at the Big Dome.
   
The muses of the 12 teams are the following: Sophia Rankin (Mahindra), Ciara  Bachmann (Alaska Aces), Daiana Menezes and Janelle Olafson (Blackwater), Justine Mae San Jose (Rain or Shine), Kylie Verzosa (Star Hotshots), Maxine Medina (Meralco), Sofia Andres & Elisse Joson (Phoenix Fuel Masters), Valeen Montenegro (Globalport  Batang Pier), Angelica Alita (TNT Katropa), Kim Domingo (Barangay Ginebra San Mgiuel), Yassi Pressman (San Miguel Beermen), and Margo Midwinter (NLEX).