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Sports

New league order

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Its a whole new ball game in the PBAs 46th season with 26 rookies, 31 veterans switching teams, six veterans retiring, at least five reactivated mainstays and players sliding over to 3x3. Commissioner Willie Marcial couldnt even suggest the teams that are likely to make it to the semifinals because the pecking order has clearly changed.

An indication of evolving parity came in the Philippine Cup eliminations in Clark last year with two teams tied for first, five in a logjam for third and the ninth placer just a win away from qualifying for the playoffs. Barangay Ginebra and Phoenix finished with identical 8-3 records to top the roost. In the quarterfinals, San Miguel Beer squandered a twice-to-beat advantage to bow out of contention to Meralco. And in the semifinals, both series went the distance. In the finals, Ginebra won Game 1 in overtime, Game 2 by two points and clinched in Game 5 by four with TNT battling all the way until the final buzzer.

The reactivation of June Mar Fajardo at San Miguel, Robert Bolick and Jonathan Grey at NorthPort, Kelly Williams at TNT and Jake Pascual at Phoenix will make a difference for sure. San Miguel badly missed Fajardo in failing to advance to the semis last conference. NorthPort won only once in 11 outings despite Christian Standhardingers presence and coach Pido Jarencio has brought in seven new faces while welcoming back Bolick and Grey in a major shakeup. Williams sat out the Clark bubble but has since been re-signed to a two-year deal. Pascual is good to go, too, and will fortify the Super LPGs frontline.

NorthPort relegated Jervy Cruz, L. A. Revilla and Sean Manganti to its 3x3 roster and added rookie Mark Olayon to the cast. Jarencios rookies are Jaime Malonzo and Troy Rike. Veterans making their Batang Pier debut are Greg Slaughter, Jeepy Faundo, Clint Doliguez, Jerrick Balanza and Sidney Onwubere. The Beermen shuffled Louie Vigil and Dano de Guzman to 3x3 then added Bacon Austria, Jeff Manday, Paul Gulfo and James Mangahas to the lineup. Theres no rookie in coach Leo Austrias 5x5 roster and the new additions are veterans C. J. Perez, James Sena and Fonzo Gotladera. Gone are Russel Escoto, Billy Mamaril, Matt Rosser and Gelo Alolino. At Phoenix, assistant coach Willy Wilson named Brandon Rosser, Nico Salva, Reymar Caduyac, Toci Tansingco and Mike Gamboa as the teams 3x3 players.

Hanging up their sneakers during the offseason were Cyrus Baguio, Ronald Tubid, Harvey Carey, JC Intal, Jay-R Reyes and Marc Pingris. Two coaching changes are Chot Reyes taking over from Mark Dickel at TNT and Chris Gavina from Caloy Garcia at Rain or Shine. Among the veterans moving to new digs are Alaskas Yousef Taha and Gab Banal, Ginebras Standhardinger and MJ Ayaay, Blackwaters Simon Enciso, David Semerad, Kelly Nabong and Baser Amer, Meralcos Mac Belo, NLEXDon Trollano, PhoenixChris Banchero and Vic Manuel, Magnolias Calvin Abueva, Rain or Shines Bradwyn Guinto and TNTs Dave Marcelo, Ping Exciminiano, Brian Heruela and Glenn Khobuntin. The rookies include Alaskas RK Ilagan, Taylor Browne and Ben Adamos, Ginebras Brian Enriquez and Ken Holmqvist, Blackwaters Andre Paras, Josh Torralba and Rey Marc Acuno, Terrafirmas Josh Munzon and James Laput, Meralcos Michael Canete and Alvin Pasaol, NLEXCalvin Oftana, PhoenixLarry Muyang, Aljun Melecio and Nick DeMusis, Magnolias Loren Brill, Jerrick Ahanmisi, R. R. de Leon and Alvin Capobres, Rain or Shines Santi Santillan, Andrei Caracut and Anton Asistio and TNTs Mikey Williams.

PBA WILLIE MARCIAL
Philstar
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