PBA reopens with a bang
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2015 - 10:00am

It’s the grand opening of the PBA’s 41st season today and all roads lead to the Smart Araneta Coliseum for a glitzy inaugural program featuring a dazzling array of muses in the traditional parade of teams. Only one game is scheduled but it’s a humdinger as title-hungry Rain Or Shine battles the Star Hotshots with coach Jason Webb making his debut.

In a marketing stroke of genius, the PBA is transforming its previous team-oriented slogan “Kampihan Na” to a more fan-connective “Liga Ng Mga Bida” to showcase the superstars as the ultimate crowd drawers. No doubt, the “bida” appeal will make an impact in the turnstiles and TV ratings.

As for the game itself, new PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa is determined to revive the beauty of basketball in all its glory. He’s declared war on tactics and tricks that destroy the flow of a well-played contest. The referees won’t tolerate excessive physicality bordering on mixed martial arts. And Narvasa will have an ace up his sleeve, a fourth referee at his disposal in case he feels a need for a replacement during a game. That will surely put the three referees on their toes every second of a game.

* * * *

On the TV5 end, coach Chot Reyes is pulling out all the stops in making every telecast an exciting, entertaining and enjoyable experience. The telestrator is back and it’ll be a useful tool in explaining how teams execute or fail to execute on both ends. Director Dong Capinpuyan said in the course of the season, the network will unveil the goal-cam (set on both backboards for a unique view of shots towards the hoop), the referee cam (strapped on a referee’s head to give an eye view of the action), the cable cam (a top view with a 360-degree capability running the length of the floor, to be introduced today), a 3D graphics capability with a more textured presentation and a parabolic microphone to capture sounds around the court even at a distance.

Unpredictability is what’s in store for fans as with at least 37 veterans changing uniforms and more than 20 rookies coming in, the balance of power in the league could be dramatically tilted. Among the veterans who transferred teams are Mac Baracael to Barako Bull, Nico Salva and Joe De Vance to Barangay Ginebra, Carlo Lastimosa and Mike Cortez to Blackwater, Joseph Yeo and Jay Washington to Globalport, KG Canaleta and Aldrech Ramos to Mahindra, Jimmy Alapag and Ronjay Buenafe to Meralco, Kevin Alas and Sean Anthony to NLEX, Ronald and Jake Pascual to the Star Hotshots, Brian Heruela and Ryan Arana to San Miguel Beer and Dylan Ababou and Denok Miranda to Talk ‘N’ Text.

The rookies include Talk ‘N’ Text’s Moe Tautuaa and Troy Rosario, Rain Or Shine’s Maverick Ahanmisi and Don Trollano, the Star’s Norbert Torres, NLEX’ Garvo Lanete and Glenn Khobuntin, Meralco’s Chris Newsome and Baser Amer (finishing his San Beda commitment in the NCAA), Globalport’s Roi Sumang, Blackwater’s Art de la Cruz (finishing his San Beda commitment in the NCAA) and Almond Vosotros, Barangay Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson, Barako Bull’s Michael Miranda and Yutien Andrada and Alaska’s Kevin Racal (finishing his Letran commitment in the NCAA) and Marion Magat.  Newbies include Talk ‘N’ Text reserve Oping Sumalinog who was the Texters’ fourth round pick in 2013, Globalport’s Philip Paniamogan who was undrafted last year and Batang Pier reserve Luigi Bercede who was Kia’s fourth round pick last year.

* * * *

The Hotshots are tipped to steal the show in today’s opening program with 14 muses. They are Miss Global International 2014 second runner-up Catherine Almirante and 13 Miss Global International 2015 candidates Candice Ramos of the Philippines, Ji Young Jung of South Korea, Jolie Chi of Taiwan, Luisa Fernandez of Colombia, Angie Durkee of El Salvador, Rubi Chaparro of Mexico, Sophie Rankin of England, Mariah Coogan of the US, Jessica Peart of Australia, Evegeniya Krasnova of Russia, Ashima Narwal of India, Htet Htet of Myanmar and Zandile Tanda of South Africa.

The other muses are Mutya Ng Pilipinas 2015 first runner-up Julie Ann Marie Bourgoin of Rain Or Shine, Ateneo volleyball star Alyssa Valdez of Talk ‘N’ Text, La Salle volleyball star Mika Reyes of Barako Bull, GMA talent and FHM cover girl for March Max Collins of Blackwater, Manny Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee for Mahindra, triathletes Sam, Tara and Chezka Borlain for Alaska, actress and singer Arci Muñoz of Barangay Ginebra, volleyball stars Rachel Ann Daquis and Alexa Micek of San Miguel Beer, actress and singer Karylle of Globalport, Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa of NLEX and TV5 actress and first Star Factor grand winner Eula Caballero of Meralco.

To make matters more interesting, PBA chairman Robert Non and president/CEO Chito Salud recently announced the league’s full commitment to the Gilas crusade for a slot in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Gilas coach Tab Baldwin submitted a wish list of 17 PBA players for the Gilas pool and the PBA Board of Governors affirmed that everyone is available for the Olympic qualifying tournament on July 5-10 next year. Once-a-week training will start in November and the pool may be contracted or expanded depending on the progress of the workouts. The PBA will also postpone the start of the Governors Cup until after the Olympic qualifying tournament.

It’s all systems go for the PBA’s 41st season and the journey starts today with a bang.

ACIRC ALMOND VOSOTROS ALYSSA VALDEZ OF TALK BARAKO BULL BARANGAY GINEBRA GLOBALPORT MISS GLOBAL INTERNATIONAL PBA RAIN OR SHINE SAN BEDA STAR HOTSHOTS
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