Petron tests souped-up GlobalportBy Musong R. Castillo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
Globalport will put its souped-up lineup to the test against powerhouse Petron Blaze today in a match that pulls the curtains up on the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado, who found their way to Globalport following blockbuster deals, will lead the Batang Pier against the Boosters in the 5:15 p.m. contest.
Defending champion San Mig Coffee battles Barako Bull at 7:30 p.m., with both squads also trying to see how their newly tweaked rosters will fare.
Globalport also has a new coach in Junnel Baculi, whom team owner Mikee Romero happily picked up after being fired by Barako Bull. Justin Williams will be the Batang Pier import and will form a twin tower combination with the 6-foot-9 Aguilar.
“With the players we got in the trades, we look competitive on paper,” Baculi said. “We still have to build chemistry, though. The good thing is that our players are veterans.”
Mercado, Aguilar and Williams will join Willie Miller and scoring champion Gary David in forming the nucleus of the Batang Pier, which also picked up hardworking rookie center Kelly Nabong and JP Belencion and Josh Vanlandingham from Meralco as part of the Mercado deal.
Renaldo Balkman, who had stints with Denver and New York in the NBA, will be the Petron Blaze import.
With Denzel Bowles still playing as an import in the Chinese Basketball Association, coach Tim Cone is pinning his hopes on 6-foot-11 Matt Rogers and old reliable James Yap, Marc Pingris and Peter June Simon.
The Mixers will also parade new recruits Alex Mallari, Leo Najorda and rookie point guard Lester Alvarez.