THE PBA IS BACK!
The best basketball league in the country will be resuming its 45th season this October 9 in its own bubble at Clark, Pampanga.
The PBA Board of Governors made the announcement on Thursday during a Zoom press conference. The league will be holding its games at The Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Gym in Angeles City, the same venue used in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The PBA will have a full bubble format of their own for their return and will be staying at the Quest Hotel in Mimosa. Although, the league is still waiting for the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), teams are a set to enter the bubble on September 26.
Virtual fans will be in the venue as well and all games will be shown on One Sports and PBA Rush with livestreams on ESPN5. While there are scheduled games every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will be simulcast on TV5.
The first game will be at 4:00 p.m. and one hour will be allotted to disinfect the court before the second game rolls in at 8:00 p.m.
The PBA will have run a single round robin tournament in the elimination stages and during the playoffs, the top four teams will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will have a best-of-five series and the finals will be a best-of-seven series.
A player that leaves the bubble will face heavy sanctions such as having his one-month salary withheld, a fine of 100,000 pesos and they will also be suspended for five games next season.
With all those details in place, it is very likely that we will see the PBA back in our screens in less than a month.
Which got me thinking, what are the storylines we have to look out for in the return of the Philippine Cup?
NLEX Road Warriors going through the competition
Meralco Bolts shocking PH Cup run
Alaska Aces’ young guns starts taking over
Terra Firma Dyip’s new dynamic duo
NorthPort Batang Pier dark horse run
NO. 1 – Barangay Ginebra’s quest to rule the PH Cup
Minutes after winning its third Governors’ Cup title in four years last season, Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone quickly declared that they’ll be eyeing to take the All-Filipino Cup in the bag as well.
A lot were excited to hear this statement as the winningest coach in the PBA history doesn’t often make these kinds of declarations. But before the season started, the Kings hit a wall right away as they found out that their ace center Greg Slaughter will not be coming back for the season.
This left a huge hole in the middle for Barangay Ginebra. However, their roster is still one of the best as they still got their core of Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, Stanley Pringle and Art Dela Cruz with veteran guys like LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan, Mark Caguioa, Joe Devance and Jared Dillinger along with the talented rookies they drafted in Kent Salado, Jerrick Balanza and Arvin Tolentino.
Despite missing the seven-foot-tall big-man, the Kings are still a legitimate threat to win it all. That’s why it’ll be very interesting to see how they’ll be able to perform especially with the absence of the crowd that usually fuels them in games.
NO. 2 – San Miguel Beermen hunt for the six-peat
In the last five years, only one team has ruled the Philippine Cup. That is the San Miguel Beermen.
Year after year, once the Philippine Cup rolls around, the Beermen comes out and dominate. Even in games that looks like it’s over for them, they still manage to pull it through and come out on top.
This conference however is quite different from their previous runs.
San Miguel will have to bid for their sixth consecutive All-Filipino title without their six-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo.
The Cebuano big-man is still recovering from his season-ending shin injury that he suffered back in February, weeks before the initial start of the Philippine Cup.
There is still no news on whether Fajardo will enter the bubble but the initial decision was for him to sit out the season to ensure his safety.
The six-foot-10 Fajardo has helped San Miguel secure eight titles since the 2014-2015 season.
The Beermen still have their deadly perimeter guys like Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Terrence Romeo, Chris Ross and Von Pessumal as well as a high caliber Center in Mo Tautuaa. There is no question that teams are seeing San Miguel as vulnerable team this season and it’ll be interesting to see how they would respond to those trying to take their throne away.
NO. 3 – Return of the Beast?
The Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters has been facing a lot of dilemmas lately.
It goes back to the suspension of Calvin Abueva last season, when he got into an ugly scuffle with then TNT import Terrance Jones that resulted to his indefinite suspension.
This was followed by a disappointing performance in the 2019 Governors’ Cup where they finished second to the last in the standings with a 3-8 record.
And then, during the hiatus of the PBA, they decided to fire their head coach Louie Alas.
[ANNOUNCEMENT 1/3] With the possibility of a PBA restart, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuelmasters have began discussions on its future plans. After much deliberation, management has decided to discontinue Mr. Louie Alas' services as Head Coach. pic.twitter.com/qsbYKD8OlM— Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters (@fuelmasters) September 11, 2020
That resulted into a lot of heat from the fans including the son of Coach Alas, NLEX Road Warriors’ Kevin Alas, who went to Facebook to vent out his frustrations.
In his post, he stated that “You did not defend your suspended player, then you do not renew several of your players this year. Some just can’t speak up because of course, they’re thinking about their families. I understand that this is a business but man, don’t expect to win if that’s how you treat your employees—as if they are disposable.” The young Alas stated.
And now the PBA is set to make its return in October and yet there is still no final word whether Phoenix will finally have the services of Abueva in resume of the conference.
However, it seems that things are starting to light up for the Fuel Masters as during the Zoom press conference, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial stated that there will be an update on Abueva’s status in the next few days, and that we should all look out for it.
Maybe I’m just being optimistic but the return of the Beast will be a welcome sight for many fans.
His return would surely be the start of a positive turnaround for Phoenix this season.