It’s been awhile since we had a PBA champion not named the San Miguel Beermen, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, or the TNT Tropang Giga.

The same cast of characters winning all the PBA titles has come in part due to talent, consistency, and savvy moves, but it has also incited groans from some quarters and called to question the parity within the league.

There have been a few squads who have tried to break the cycle, but none have thus far been successful. The Magnolia Hotshots, who were the last PBA team to do so back in 2018, are once again looking to barge in the winner’s circle with a new import in tow: Tyler Bey.

Bey is the youngest among the collection of imports in the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup and is one of those with more recent NBA experience. Drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 36th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Bey wasted no time introducing himself to the league, emerging as a two-way force that has helped the Hotshots rise to the top of the 2023-2024 Commissioner’s Cup standing with a 7-0 record.  

A little more than halfway through this conference, Bey hasn’t been shy to fight in the trenches and put his body on the line while generally avoiding the urge to veer away from Magnolia’s system. Of course, he still gets his points, but he has largely gotten them based on what the circumstances have given him. His penchant for 30-20 double-doubles have been very much welcome for the Hotshots, but his 2.3 steals per game have also been critical to Magnolia’s current campaign.

The likes of Bey and Jalalon have been among the Hotshots’ disruptors in the passing game and whether or not the games have been close, the former’s commitment to defense has helped Magnolia pass the tests opponents have provided. Last Sunday, the Beermen provided a stiff challenge to the Hotshots even with the absence of seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, going on a 13-0 run in the second half to take a slim lead in the third quarter. However, Magnolia stuck to their guns, and with Bey remaining undeterred, the Hotshots came away with the victory in the end.

Whether or not the rest of the preliminary round will provide more obstacles remains to be seen, but Magnolia’s bigger concerns lie in the postseason, where they have not advanced past the semifinals in the last four conferences. Hopefully, Bey and the Hotshots have the energy and health to get over the proverbial hump.

So far, Bey’s stellar play has not gone unnoticed, as there have been calls for his inclusion into the Gilas Pilipinas program. That, however, is a conversation for another time. Besides, Bey is still in the thick of helping Magnolia return to the summit.

The Magnolia Hotshots were the last PBA team to break the championship stranglehold of the San Miguel Beermen, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, and the TNT Tropang Giga and are making the case to do so once again with Tyler Bey leading the way. Things are looking good thus far, but we all know that the only thing that matters is where the Hotshots are when all is said and done.