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Beermen kick off campaign versus Phoenix

MANILA, Philippines — The PBA’s 43rd season is set to unfold on Dec. 17 with San Miguel Beer, winner of the Philippine Cup the past three years, launching its campaign for a fourth straight.

The league the other night released a partial but official schedule for the all-Filipino conference, consisting of only 11 games over six playing dates until Dec. 29.

San Miguel faces Phoenix on opening day at 6:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum following the traditional parade of the 12 teams and their muses.

On Dec. 20, the league visits the San Juan Arena for two games pitting Kia versus NLEX and Magnolia (former Star) versus Alaska Milk. On Dec. 22, the old Cuneta Astrodome hosts Blackwater against Meralco and Rain or Shine against TNT Ka Tropa.

Christmas Day will be the game to watch with Ginebra taking on Magnolia in an early “Manila Classico” offering, and NLEX versus GlobalPort prior to the main game.

On Dec. 27, it’s back to the Big Dome for Phoenix versus Kia and Meralco versus San Miguel, and on the 29th, it’s Blackwater against Rain or Shine, and TNT against Alaska at the Astrodome.

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The league did not say when the rest of the schedule will come out.

It’s the first time the PBA had come up with an abbreviated schedule for any particular conference, and it comes at a time when there’s great uncertainty surrounding the league.

Differences among members of the PBA board remain unresolved despite a promise from one member that a solution was to come this week.

A board meeting was scheduled last Tuesday. But at the last minute, it was called off, again raising questions on the possibility that the impasse is about to end.

A PBA insider said releasing the schedule is a good hint that the league will push through with its opening on Dec. 17.

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is hoping for the impasse to end. “All of us want this episode to get done with for us to be able to move on,” he told The STAR.

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