The PBA yesterday moved the opening of the season-ending Governors’ Cup to an August-to-October playdate to give the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas team time to prepare for the Fiba-Asia World Championship qualifier set Aug. 1 to 11 in Manila.
To counter the negative effects of the new schedule as far as the exposure of the PBA teams is concerned, the league will make the Commissioner’s Cup format similar to that of the Philippine Cup, starting from Friday to May 28 at the latest.
That would give national coach Chot Reyes more than two months to whip the national squad into mean form as they try to finish at least third to earn the right to play in the World Championship scheduled next year in Madrid.
“I had a very positive and productive talk with our team owners,” PBA commissioner Chito Salud said in a statement. “Not only have they agreed to lend players, they readily OK’d moving the third conference until after the Fiba Asia tourney.”
“In this case, our owners placed national interest above all considerations. I am so proud of the PBA.”
The Fiba Asia tournament will also mark the first time in 40 years that the Philippines is hosting the continent’s biggest basketball show.
The Fiba Asia will feature the national teams of regional powers China, Iran, South Korea, Lebanon and Jordan, and part of the PH team’s preparations is the defense of its Jones Cup title in Taipei, where all of those teams could be entered.
Originally penciled to run only until April 28, the Commissioner’s Cup will now have a double round-robin elimination, giving each of the teams at least 14 games. Two of the cellar-dwelling squads will be eliminated from the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Japeth Aguilar is expected to sign a three-year, maximum contract worth about P15.1 million with Globalport in time for Friday’s opening at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-9 Aguilar joined the Batang Pier in practice yesterday at the Moro Lorenzo gym.
The Batang Pier will battle powerhouse Petron Blaze at 5:15 p.m. before San Mig Coffee and Barako Bull clash at 7:30 p.m.