Phoenix Petroleum under coach Ariel Vanguardia will face Blackwater of coach Leo Isaac at 4 p.m. today followed by the Rain or Shine against Talk ‘N Text match at 7 p.m. in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum
Defending back-to-back champion San Miguel Beer defeated the Star Hotshots, 96-88, behind three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo’s 25 points and 16 rebounds on Sunday.
“We are all excited to play and I think we’re facing a competitive Blackwater team,” said Vanguardia in an interview.
“Blackwater also has new players like top pick Mac Belo, so they are no longer a pushover team,” added Phoenix team governor Raymond Zorillo.
“Based on practice and drills, I’m confident about our chances of winning our first game,” he added.
The Fuel Masters will field rookies Matthew Wright, Gelo Alolino and Jeffrey Javillonar alongside veterans JC Intal, Cyrus Baguio, Willie Wilson, John Wilson, Chico Lanete, Mark Borboran, Douglas Kramer, Marvin Hayes and the 6’7 Norbert Torres.
But the Elite have new players willing to prove their worth in the league. This year’s top overall pick Belo of Gilas Pilipinas, Ael Banal and Tristan Perez will be leading the Elite’s charge.
“It is going to be a new season,” said Isaac via text message to The Manila Times. “We have new players and renewed energy. We are very excited for our first game tomorrow (today).”
Blackwater will rely on Dennis Miranda, Ronjay Buenafe, James Forrester, Nards Pinto, Shej Roi Sumang, James Sena, Jason Melano, Art Dela Cruz, Bam Bam Gamalinda, Reil Cervantes and Kyle Pascual.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine will start its post-Yeng Guiao era when it battles Talk ‘N Text. The Elasto Painters under new coach Caloy Garcia are also preparing to harness its new acquisition, star cager James Yap.
“Nothing has changed in our system. As what I’ve said, we are still using coach Yeng Guiao’s system. We have to play our best against Talk ‘N Text and we are hopeful to win our first game,” said Garcia. “James (Yap) is not yet going to play but he’s now participating in our practice.”
Rain or Shine will lean on the prowess of Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibanez, Chris Tiu, Jericho Cruz, Maverick Ahanmisi, Jeff Chan, rookie Mike Tolomia, Anthony Jay Washington, Jewel Ponferrada, Ronnie Matias and Raymond Almazan.
Assistant coach Josh Reyes will lead the Texters against Rain or Shine in the temporary absence of head coach Nash Racela.
The Tropang Texters will plunge into action led by combo guard Jayson Castro, Danny Seigle, Kris Rosales, Larry Fonacier, Ranidel De Ocampo, Troy Rosario, Moala Tautuaa, Ryan Reyes, Harvey Carey, Kelly Williams, Matt Ganuelas and rookie Roger Pogoy.