Phoenix Petroleum and Meralco will clash against each other, while Mahindra faces Star Hotshots when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 41 Governors’ Cup unfolds today at the Araneta Coliseum.
After resting for a couple of weeks to give way to the country’s hosting of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the league opens the season with the Fuel Masters battling the Bolts at 4:15 p.m. and the Hotshots playing against the Enforcers at 7 p.m.
Debuting Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia expressed confidence, saying his players are out to give their 100 percent effort to match the intensity of the Bolts.
“It’s a new conference and I’m really happy to be back in the PBA as head coach. I’m hoping to win our first game but I’m confident my players will give their best,” Vanguardia, a former champion coach in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), told The Manila Times.
Vanguardia, who steered the Westports Malaysia Dragons to ABL title in March, replaced former Phoenix head coach Koy Banal after the Commissioners’ Cup.
Before his ABL stint, Vanguardia also served as assistant coach to different PBA teams. He also handled Jose Rizal University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Phoenix acquired veteran wingman Cyrus Baguio from Alaska and shooter Ronjay Buenafe from Meralco via trade. Baguio was shipped by the Aces in exchange for two second round draft rights (2017 and 2018) on Wednesday.
Buenafe was acquired after trading Jonathan Uyloan to Meralco.
Besides the new acquisitions, Vanguardia and the Fuel Masters will parade playmaker Josh Urbiztondo, Willy Wilson, John Wilson, Chico Lanete, Simon Enciso, Mark Cruz and Norbert Torres.
They will lean also on import Marcus Simmons and Asian import Lee Gwan Hee.
Meralco, on the other hand, will bank on import Allen Durham and Asian import Mohamad Jamshidi to play alongside Cliff Hodge, Jared Dillinger, Jimmy Alapag, Baser Amer, Chris Newsome and Reynel Hugnatan.
The Star Hotshots, meanwhile, will rely on long time import Marqus Blakely, locals James Yap, Peter June Simon, Rafi Reavis, Justin Melton and Mark Andy Barroca, when they play against the Enforcers.
The Enforcers of playing coach Manny Pacquiao, for their part, got James White as import to lean on with local players Nino Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, LA Revilla and rookie Bradwyn Guinto.