GlobalPort and Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) are keen to notch their first wins when they face separate rivals in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier under coach Pido Jarencio that made it to the semifinals for the first time last conference with a 7-4 win-loss record, will battle the Mahindra Enforcers in the 4:15 p.m. first game while the Road Warriors will take on the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the second game at 7 p.m.
“We prepared a lot for this conference and against Mahindra, we’re not underestimating them because they have a lot of talented players,” Jarencio told The Manila Times. “But practice is different from actual game, so we have to be ready physically and mentally.”
The 6’8 former Asean Basketball League import Brian Williams will be matched by Batang Pier against the 6’8 Augustus Gilchrist of Mahindra.
“Let’s see tomorrow [Friday] how he performs but I’m confident he’ll do good,” said Jarencio, who will be relying on sneaky guard Terrence Romeo.
Romeo will be supported in the backcourt by the 6’1 playmaker Stanley Pringle, which is last year’s Rookie of the Year. Also expected to step up are Billy Mamaril, Anthony Jay Washington, Anthony Semerad, Joseph Yeo, Roi Sumang, Rico Maier¬hofer and Keith Jensen.
Besides Gilchrist, the Enforcers will bank on the prowess of Mark Yee, LA Revilla, Hyram Bagatsing, Kyle Pascual, Bradwyn Guinto, Nino Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, Eddie Laure and Karl Dehesa when they take on GlobalPort.
Assistant coach Chito Victolero will temporarily lead the team in the absence of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao who is busy training for his April 9 third fight against Timothy Bradley.
“So far, so good,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, who will be fielding returning 6’8 import and former National Basketball Association player Al Thornton.
Forward Sean Anthony is expected to take charge of NLEX’s offense with the help of veteran Paul Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva, Kevin Alas, Enrico Villanueva and Mac Cardona.
The Gin Kings that were beaten by the Batang Pier during the Philippine Cup’s quarterfinals early this year, will try to bounce back this conference through the help of import Othyus Jeffers.
In the absence of Greg Slaughter who was down with measles according to coach Tim Cone, Jeffers, Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Solomon Mercado, Joe Devance, rookie Earl Scottie Thompson, Dave Marcelo and Chris Ellis are also expected to lead the Gin Kings against the Road Warriors.
“Our immediate goal is to get off to a quicker start this conference, but with Greg down with measles and possibly missing the first two games, we’ll be hard pressed to reach that goal. Still, we have a lot of faith in our depth and the guys we have. We feel there is a good chance we won’t miss a beat. Just like everybody, we are excited for the start of this conference,” Cone said.
JOSEF T. RAMOS