MANILA, Philippines – The old league mighty powers and rulers are still the ones favored to figure prominently in the race to the top in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that unfolds Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Talk n Text is determined to defend the crown, San Miguel Beer is raring to stretch its title run to three conferences while Alaska Milk, Rain or Shine, Barangay Ginebra and Star are teams likely to play their roles as perennial contenders.
Globalport will also be on the spotlight with Terrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle and their teammates out to prove that their fourth-place in the Philippine Cup is for real.
The Meralco Bolts have tapped the services of Arinze Onuaku for the upcoming PBA Commissioner’s Cup to replace the injured Malcolm Thomas.
Meralco Coach Norman Black said Thomas sustained a knee injury during practice and missed the Bolts’ 112-101 victory over the Globalport Batang Pier during a tune-up game last Saturday, prompting the team to sign Onuaku.
Onuaku is expected to arrive today in time for the Bolts’ Commissioner’s Cup opener against the Star Hotshots on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The former Syracuse Orangeman is coming off a stint in a pro league in Israel, averaging almost four points and five rebounds as a backup center.
Reigning Best Import Wayne Chism and fierce rival Ivan Johnson banner the stellar cast of reinforcements set to make waves when the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup tips off on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chism will be hoping that the third time’s a charm as he hopes to finally bring a championship to Rain or Shine in his third tour of duty for the Elasto Painters.
But standing in his way will be 11 other imports led by Ivan Johnson, Denzel Bowles and Rob Dozier, who are also making their anticipated PBA return.
June Mar Fajardo will finally get the breather he deserves.
After his inspiring comeback that fuelled San Miguel Beer’s dramatic Philippine Cup conquest, the two-time MVP was advised to take a rest in the next two to three weeks to better tend to his injured left knee.
“I have been advised to take a rest for two to three weeks,” said Fajardo, who returned from a swollen left knee in Game 5 of the Finals against Alaska, in Filipino.
Alaska teammates Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros has won every possible title in the PBA.
There are six titles between the two wingmen–two Commissioner’s Cups and four Fiesta Cups—but in the near three decades combined they have been in the PBA–16 and 13 years for Hontiveros and Baguio, respectively– neither have won the coveted Philippine Cup.
Baguio and Hontiveros had a chance to finally get the All Filipino title against San Miguel but the Beermen dusted themselves off after a 0-3 start and aced the next four games for the so-called “Beeracle,”
San Miguel coach Leo Austria believes that one factor that led to Alaska's downfall in the PBA Philippine Cup was that the Aces did not expect June Mar Fajardo to return all too sudden.
Fajardo, who has been averaging 24.6 points and 13.9 rebounds, missed the first three games of the best-of-seven series due to a knee injury he sustained in the semis. This allowed Alaska to take control of the shaded lane to erect a 3-0 lead in the title duel.
''After nung game sa semifinals, ramdam na ramdam ko yung team na napakababa ng morale because we lost June Mar,'' Austria told Radio dzMM's Fastbreak. ''Ang sabi ko 'Guys, we are the defending champions. With or without June Mar, we're capable of winning another championship.'''
Coming back from a 0-3 series deficit is a tough deal for San Miguel, which is why coach Leo Austria would prefer his team not to go through the same path again.
The Beermen made history by becoming the first team ever to successfully comeback from such deficit and a second straight PBA Philippine Cup title at the expense of the Alaska Aces.
''Mixed emotions ang nararamdaman ko hanggang ngayon. Hindi pa rin ako nakakatulog dahil iniisip ko papaanong nangyari itong dinanas namin eh. 'Di ko lubos maisip na magagawa namin ito,'' Austria told radio dzMM's Fast Break.