Arizona Reid will try to plug two holes created by the excused absence of Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan when Rain or Shine opens defense of its PBA Governors’ Cup title against powerhouse San Mig Coffee today at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The bull-strong import will anchor the Elasto Painters’ game on both ends in the 7:30 p.m. match as Rain or Shine starts working on their franchise’s first successful defense against one of the fancied teams in the preseason.
Chan and Norwood helped Gilas Pilipinas win the silver medal in the very recent 27th Fiba-Asia Championship and coach Yeng Guiao said that he is open to letting them rest though “winning is important to us because we have a good chance.”
The Painters won this tournament with Jamelle Cornley as an import last year and were set to re-sign the hardworking Cornley before a celebrated incident with three prostitutes about three months ago forced the PBA to suspend him indefinitely.
Marc Pingris will also not play for the Mixers as he needs to let a slightly pulled hamstring heal.
James Yap, the former two-time MVP, will be at the forefront of the San Mig offense with Joe Devance, who recently figured in a near-fistfight with Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva in an exhibition match, also to play a vital role.
Air21 and Globalport clash in the 5:15 p.m. contest with Jay Washington making his debut as a Batang Pier and expected to make it his team.
Washington was involved in a blockbuster trade that also had Japeth Aguilar moving to Barangay Ginebra, and the trade looks like a great fit for the 6-foot-7 power forward because he will be the first option underneath.
Gary David also saw action for the Gilas five and is expected to play minimal minutes if at all, with Sol Mercado and Willie Miller there to take up the scoring slack.
Zach Graham returns for another tour of duty with the Express even as Markeith Cummings makes his debut on Philippine soil with the Batang Pier, who are looking to make it past the eliminations for the first time in their young PBA existence.
Marqus Blakely, a great leaper who had a respectable collegiate career at Vermont, will be San Mig Coffee’s import.
Blakely went undrafted in 2010 and was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers before the regular season began. He went on to the NBA D-League to play for teams like the Iowa Energy and the Bakersfield Jam.