Coach Yeng Guiao and the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Road Warriors will be the first to taste Kia’s “unconventional” style of play as they clash in the opener of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup today at The Arena in San Juan City.
The seven-time PBA champion coach is curious of the controversial unorthodox approach of Picanto as they face off at 4:15 p.m. to be followed by the tussle between Alaska and Magnolia, formerly Star, at 7 p.m.
“Everybody is looking forward to their new philosophy. One reason they do not need (Christian) Standhardinger is because of that new philosophy so even us are curious if that philosophy is a game changer. That is what they call ‘unconventional position less’ and we don’t have any idea what is that,” explained Guiao.
“We have prepared against Kia as hard as we are going to prepare against any other teams,” he added.
The Picanto gave up their rights to do-it-all center Standhardinger in exchange for role players Ronald Tubid, Jay-R Reyes and Rashawn McCarthy, who hardly played for San Miguel Beer last season.
The Kia coaching staff and management, led by head coach Chris Gavina and Joe Lipa, defended their decision not to sign a promising player saying the team is heading toward a different direction.
“It is always dangerous to play against a team that has something to prove. They really want to prove that they made the right decision after trading Standhardinger and you have to respect that,” added the veteran coach.
Second overall pick Kiefer Ravena will make his debut for the Road Warriors, who are aiming for at least a semifinal finish in the all-Filipino tournament.
Kia, on the other hand, is determined to stop NLEX’s running game.
“Just like NLEX, we are looking to play at a faster pace and tempo. We will need to neutralize NLEX’s running game by making sure we stay disciplined and focused on executing our offense and committing to taking good shots after we create an advantage,” said Gavina.
In the main tiff, top rookies Jeron Teng and Davon Potts will also make their debut for the Aces as they battle the Hotshots.
“I don’t expect this to be any different. Chito (Victolero) is doing such a good job of coaching his team and they had a really solid season last year. We are expecting a good game from both teams,” said Alaska mentor Alex Compton.
Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss and JV Casio are the key mainstays for the Aces, who saw their two veterans Dondon Hontiveros and Tony dela Cruz retiring after last season.
Dela Cruz is now part of Compton’s coaching staff.
The Hotshots, meanwhile, are going to play without Jio Jalalon and Paul Lee as both are recovering from medial collateral ligament injuries. Jean Marc Pingris, who underwent a recent kidney stone surgery, and rookie Robbie Herndon (back spasm) are also doubtful to play.
Hotshots coach Chito Victolero stays optimistic of the team’s chances against the Aces despite the absence of his key players.