PBA ‘big import’ conference opens
MANILA, Philippines—The PBA Commissioner’s Cup unfurls Friday with four teams launching their drive in a compressed conference where imports of unlimited size are the main dish.
Barako Bull opens its campaign against Alaska at 5:15 p.m. before B-Meg Derby Ace and Meralco take the court at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. And if the games take on a playoff atmosphere right away, the reason is simple.
The four lower-ranked teams will automatically get the boot after the nine-game, single-round eliminations.
“The format doesn’t allow teams to relax. With only nine games, the mind-set is already playoff basketball,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
The Bolts clearly mean business after winning three tune-up games coming in, although they were obliged to change imports after Jelani McCoy, a 6-foot-10 power forward who played for six NBA teams, got injured.
Replacing him is 6-foot-11 Jarrid Famous, who arrived two days ago, He will battle the Llamados’ resilient frontline of Yancy De Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, Joe De Vance and import Denzel Bowles, who is listed at 6-foot-10.
“We’re ready to battle against one of the stronger teams in the league. We will do our best to compete, stay close and find ways to win,” said Gregorio.
Meanwhile, the Energy got an added boost underneath with 6-foot-9 DerMarr Johnson, a
University of Cincinatti alum selected in the first round (sixth overall) by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2000 NBA Draft.
The Aces will parade Adam Parada, an agile seven-footer who suited up for the Energy in 2008.