PBA: What to expect in the Governors’ Cup
Barangay Ginebra is seen as the team that has the strongest odds to win the Philippine Basketball Association’s final conference, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the field no longer has a chance.
And it’s one of the questions that will eventually be answered during the course of the Governors’ Cup, the 47th season’s third and final chapter that has names heard for the first time or carrying interim tags.
WHAT IS THE TOURNAMENT FORMAT?
Eight teams qualify for the quarterfinals after the 11-game eliminations, with the top four seeds carrying a twice-to-beat advantage. Ties will be determined through quotient, except for the eighth and final spot since teams have to slug it out in a knockout game.
The two semifinal series are best-of-five while the Finals, to be held sometime around mid-April, is going to be contested in a best-of-seven affair.
HOW MANY FIRST-TIME IMPORTS WILL PLAY?
Six teams tapped foreigners who will suit up for the first time, with NLEX’s Jonathon Simmons carrying impressive credentials after playing for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA.
Other debutants are NorthPort’s Marcus Weathers, who was supposed to don the San Miguel Beer jersey, Magnolia’s Erik McCree, Converge’s Ethan Rushbach from New Zealand, TNT’s Jalen Hudson and Terrafirma’s Jordan Williams.
Most of the cast had experience playing in the NBA G-League or in Europe.
WHO ARE THE ‘BALIK-IMPORTS’?
Blackwater’s Shawn Glover and Phoenix’s DuVaughn Maxwell played in last season’s Governors’ Cup while Meralco’s KJ McDaniels played at the tailend of the Commissioner’s Cup while having stints with TNT and NLEX in 2019 and 2021.
San Miguel’s Cameron Clark helped NLEX reach the semifinals of the previous year’s Governors’ Cup while Rain or Shine’s Michael Qualls carried NorthPort to the semis of the 2019 edition.
Of course, there’s no reason to introduce Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee, who’s going for a seventh PBA championship which would set a record for an import.
WHO ARE THE COACHES CARRYING INTERIM TAGS?
NorthPort’s Bonnie Tan switched roles with long-time coach Pido Jarencio, who will now be the Batang Pier’s team manager. But Tan, who guided Letran to three straight NCAA championships, was named as interim mentor.
Jamike Jarin also has the same title at Phoenix after Topex Robinson opted not to sign an extension and take the vacant role as La Salle coach. Jarin, who had success as Ateneo high school coach and won an NCAA title at San Beda, was Robinson’s lead assistant before being elevated by Phoenix management.
WHAT IS THE COACHING SETUP AT TNT?
Chot Reyes will have a busy 2023 as chief tactician of the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will compete in the Fiba World Cup, prompting him to relinquish his TNT role in lieu of team manager Jojo Lastimosa.
Reyes will remain as senior consultant with Lastimosa being designated as coach and Serbian Lale Gorunovic serving as active consultant.
HOW ABOUT SAN MIGUEL?
Jorge Gallent will now call the shots at San Miguel after the team said that nine-time champion mentor Leo Austria asked management to take a break from coaching.
Austria was retained as consultant, but the extent of his involvement remains to be seen.
WHO ARE THE NOTABLE RETURNEES?
James Yap is back for Rain or Shine on a one-conference deal after taking a break to focus on his successful campaign as San Juan City councilor.
Others were placed on the active roster after recovering from injuries, like NorthPort’s Arwind Santos, Blackwater’s Jvee Casio and Terrafirma’s Isaac Go.
WHO WILL START THE CONFERENCE ON THE INJURED LIST?
Blackwater’s Troy Rosario is still out due to an injured foot while NorthPort rookie William Navarro is out for the season due to his ACL tear during the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals against Barangay Ginebra.
HOW MANY PLAYERS CHANGED TEAMS?
Sixteen players will now be wearing different uniforms, namely Barkley Ebona (Converge), RK Ilagan (Blackwater), Mike DiGregorio (Blackwater), Tyrus Hill, Jerrick Balanza (Converge), Allyn Bulanadi (San Miguel), Paul Zamar (NorthPort), Joshua Munzon (NorthPort), Kevin Ferrer (Terrafirma), Justin Chua (TNT), Paul Varilla (TNT), Jake Pascual (NLEX), Sean Anthony (NLEX), J-Jay Alejandro (Phoenix) and Raul Soyud (Phoenix) and Jansen Rios (Meralco).
IS THERE A PLAYER THAT CAME FROM OUTSIDE THE PBA?
NLEX signed Hesed Gabo, a veteran of numerous leagues like the MPBL and the PBA D-League. The ex-Mapua stalwart helped Nueva Ecija capture the recent MPBL crown.
WHEN WILL EACH TEAM MAKE THEIR DEBUTS?
Rain or Shine, Meralco, NorthPort and Converge see action in Sunday’s conference opener, Blackwater, NLEX, Phoenix and TNT debut on Wednesday, Terrafirma takes its turn on Jan. 28, Magnolia and San Miguel on Jan. 29 while Ginebra opens its title defense on Feb. 5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR GINEBRA?
The newly-crowned Commissioner’s Cup champion is gunning for a third straight Governors’ Cup and five out of the last six editions. Ginebra is also eyeing a sweep of the two import-laden conferences for the first time in franchise history.
A rare double would also be a first for Brownlee, who has never won twice in a single PBA season.
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