By Olmin Leyba
WITH or without Kiefer Ravena, NLEX is pumped up to get going in the 2022 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup and build on the gains of its semifinal stint in the previous conference.
“We can’t wait to get started,” coach Yeng Guiao said ahead of the Road Warriors’ Season 47 debut game against Terrafirma on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’re totally excited and ready to compete. Everyone is healthy and looking forward to a fruitful conference. Our previous semis experience gives us a lot of hope and confidence.”
San Miguel Beer (SMB), owner of a five-peat but a letdown in the last two All-Filipinos, starts its quest to return to the top against Phoenix Super LPG at 6 p.m.
The Fuel Masters beefed up on Tuesday by acquiring Javee Mocon from Rain or Shine in exchange for Nick Demusis plus their first-round pick in Season 48 and second-round selection in Season 49.
Kevin Alas, JR Quinahan, Don Allado, and fit-again Calvin Oftana and Tony Semerad are tipped to lead the way for the Road Warriors, even as Mr. Ravena has yet to sign a contract for his comeback stint following a stint in Japan.
“Magaling sila, fluid ang opensa, kaya kailangan i-disrupt namin ang execution nila,” said Terrafirma John Cardel of their opening opponent NLEX.
Mr. Cardel’s troops led by Season 46 Most Improved Player Juami Tiongson, Joshua Munzon, Aldrech Ramos and Andreas Cahilig are bent on improving on their 11th place standing in the Governors’ Cup.
Meanwhile, the Beermen open their campaign without Terrence Romeo (back injury) but still with a lethal crew led by June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Vic Manuel, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and recent trade acquisition Rob Herndon, from Converge.
“Over the past two seasons, we either weren’t able to make the finals or win a championship because of so many things that happened during the pandemic,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose team underwent some personnel shake-up last season, shipping out Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot.
“We had more time to prepare this time and figure out what’s wrong. Talagang may problema kami sa cohesion and chemistry (last year). We’re able to address that in the off-season.”
Mr. Mocon joins forces with Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins, Sean Anthony and RJ Jazul the Phoenix banner.