Reigning champion San Miguel Beer led by three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and the fortified Star Hotshots will clash in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup opener today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen, winner of back-to-back Philippine Cup crowns, will face the Hotshots at 6:15 p.m. after the 4 p.m. opening ceremony to be presided by Season 42 Chairman Mikee Romero of GlobalPort and League Commissioner Chito Narvasa.
“Well, so far we are doing well the past few days and we’re focusing on our first game,” Coach Leo Austria of the Beermen told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Saturday. “I’m expecting my players to be ready in this kind of game and I know they will give their best.”
Fajardo, who averaged 19.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last season, will be supported by Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, David Semerad, Jay-R Reyes, Ronald Tubid, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter.
San Miguel Beer will be fielding new players, the 6’7 Arnold Van Opstal, guard Rashawn McCarthy, Ryan Roose Garcia and Keith Agovida.
“I’m telling my players especially the rookies to fight for their slot. Our main concern is to win and we’re not focusing on giving them exposure if they can’t help us win. Van Opstal must earn his minutes because he’ll be sharing minutes with June Mar and as well as to other big guys,” Austria said.
“McCarthy is playing two-guard and you know we have a lot of guards in the line-up.”
Austria also told The Times that veteran swingman Nelbert Omolon, who had three PBA championships under his belt, had already retired at the age of 37 to focus on his business in Mindanao.
On the other side, the newly appointed Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said they have to play their A-Game against the Beermen. “I believe we can beat them (San Miguel Beer) if we work together. San Miguel Beer has a bigger line up than us but we’re ready.”
The Hotshots have fortified its lineup with new talents among them Paul Lee, power forward Aldrech Ramos, as well as rookies Jio Jalalon, Chris Javier and Samboy De Leon.
“We just have to improve every game. I think our chances this season looks good.”
The other Hotshots players to watch out for are Justin Melton, Peter June Simon, Jake Pascual, Ian Sanggalang, Jean Marc Pingris, Allein Maliksi and Rodney Brondial.
Meanwhile, the muses of each team in the opening ceremony are Ciarra Bachmann (Alaska), Kim Domingo (Ginebra), Diana Meneses and Janelle Olafson (Blackwater), Valeen Montenegro (GlobalPort), Sophia Rankin (Mahindra), Maxine Media (Meralco), Margo Midwinter (Northern Luzon Expressway), Elisse Joson and Sofia Andres (Phoenix), Justine Mae San Jose (Rain or Shine), Yassi Pressman (San Miguel Beer), Kylie Versoza (Star) and Angelica Alita (Talk ‘N Text).