PBA unfurls 41st season, honors Gilas five
Its kick-off pushed back due to Typhoon “Lando,” the Philippine Basketball Association finally raises the curtains on its 41st season Wednesday with an opening ceremony featuring a bevy of beauties and a Philippine Cup duel between the Star Hotshots and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The league will honor the 12-man Gilas Pilipinas for its exploits in the Fiba Asia Championship in China early this month in the opening program before action gets off the ground.
Promoted to head coach after Tim Cone’s transfer to Barangay Ginebra during the off-season, Jason Webb will handle a team made up of veterans James Yap, PJ Simon, Mark Barroca and Marc Pingris who are expected to play an up-tempo style under their new mentor.
The Hotshots missed out on the finals in the last three conferences, just a season after Cone led the franchise to the league’s fifth grand slam last year.
“We’re running something different,” said the 42-year-old Webb. “We have some ideas from the triangle. But overall, it’s a little different.”
Infusing fresh blood into their ageing squad, the Hotshots acquired Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual and rookie Norbert Torres. Instrumental in their 2014 run, center Ian Sangalang is also back after recovering from an ACL injury.
A perennial contender, the Elasto Painters are hoping to finally hit pay dirt in the season-opening All-Filipino Cup with some of their stalwarts from last season still in the fold, including gunner Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Raymond Almazan.
But Rain or Shine will miss ace guard Paul Lee, who is out for at least a month as he recovers from a knee injury.
Rookies Maverick Ahanmisi, Josan Nimes and Don Trollano are also expected to make an impact for the Painters whose one and only championship came in the 2012 Governors Cup.
The league will recognize Gilas Pilipinas led by Asia’s best point guard Jason Castro and coach Tab Baldwin.
The other highlight of the inaugurals is the traditional parade of teams featuring their respective muses.
The muses: Tara, Samantha, and Franchezka Borlain for Alaska; Mika Reyes (Barako Bull); Arci Muñoz (Barangay Ginebra); Max Collins (Blackwater); Karylle (GlobalPort), Kyla (Mahindra); Eula Caballero (Meralco); Ann Lorraine Collis (NLEX); Julee Ann Marie Bourgoin, Leren Mae Bautista, Janela Joy Cuaton and Hershy Gajudo (Rain or Shine); Alexa Micek and Rachel Ann Daquis (San Miguel Beer); Ms. Global candidates (Star Hotshots); Alyssa Valdez (Talk ‘N Text)
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