Santos makes B-Pier debut versus Aces

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Santos makes B-Pier debut versus Aces
Arwind Santos
STAR / File

Gray out of PBA 3x3 resumption

MANILA, Philippines — Arwind Santos’ NorthPort debut will serve as one of the highlights as the PBA fires off the import-flavored Governors’ Cup with a double-header on Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

A nine-time champion with San Miguel Beer, Santos will start his new chapter with the promising Batang Pier right off the bat in Day 1 against Alaska Milk at 3 p.m.

Standing in the way of Santos and his new mates Robert Bolick, Greg Slaughter and import Cameron Forte will be the determined Aces crew bannered by balik-import Olu Ashaolu.

Santos’ old SMB pals will also plunge into action in the tournament opener, taking on the NLEX Road Warriors at 6 p.m.

The Beermen had a facelift after crashing out of the Philippine Cup semifinals, letting go of “Death Five” stalwarts Santos and Alex Cabagnot to get younger guys Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso.

The Brandon Brown-powered SMB will face an NLEX side that leveled up with the hiring of the explosive KJ McDaniels and the acquisition of Kris Rosales and Marion Magat.

Also set to debut in the meet’s first week of hostilities are Terrafirma, Phoenix, Blackwater, Rain or Shine and title-holder Barangay Ginebra.

The Dyip, with debuting import Antonio Hester, and the Fuel Masters, with balik-import Paul Harris, will mix it up on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.

Blackwater, under new coach Ariel Vanguardia and with Jaylen Bond in tow, will start its redemption bid coming off a 19-game losing record in the 6 p.m. second match against Henry Walker and ROS.

Meanwhile, first-leg winner and second-leg third-placer TNT will proceed with its quest in the PBA 3x3’s inaugural season without injured Fil-Am Jeremiah Gray.

Gray sustained an ACL tear in the third leg, according to team manager Gabby Cui, forcing him out of action for today’s Leg 4 at the Ynares Sports Arena and beyond.

Cui said Martin Gozum, TNT’s pick in the fifth round of Season 46 PBA rookie draft, will take the place of Gray and join forces with Almond Vosotros, Samboy de Leon and Lervin Flores.

TNT is in Pool C for today’s fourth-leg hostilities along with Terrafirma, Leg 3 third-placers Purefoods TJ Titans and NorthPort.

The Sista Super Sealers, fresh from their Leg 3 victory, vie in Pool A against Leg 2 runner-up Platinum Karaoke, Limitless, Cavitex and Zamboanga Valientes.

Meralco, the winner of the second leg, and Pioneer Pro Tibay, second-placer last week, lead Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer in Pool B.

It will be NorthPort versus NLEX and San Miguel versus Alaska on Dec. 10 followed by the twin-bill featuring Phoenix versus Blackwater and ROS versus Terrafirma on Dec. 11.

Santos and his new teammates battle his old pals at San Miguel in the first game of Dec. 12 before Justin Brownlee and the Gin Kings launch their bid against the Aces in the nightcap.

The remaining squads - All-Filipino champion TNT Tropang Giga, runner-up Magnolia and 2019 Governors’ Cup second-placer Meralco - are expected to debut the following week.

Initial games will be held behind closed doors at the Ynares Sports Arena but the pro league is also planning to stage matches in other venues, hopefulky with spectators in succeeding schedules.

Notes: The PBA yesterday approved the deal that sent Carl Bryan Cruz to TNT from Blackwater in exchange for veteran Jay Washinton plus the Tropang Giga’s second picks in the 2022 and 2025 drafts. Cruz will reunite with coach Chot Reyes, his mentor at Gilas Pilipinas.

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