By Tito Talao
Los Angeles – Before all hell broke loose in the PBA and seven governors decided they needed a new commissioner while five of their colleagues said ‘not so fast’, before an ambitious planning session here was scrapped even as the plane left Manila and before 12 opinionated men sought to sweep the mess under the rug behind a shaky armistice, a couple of concerns were hammered into place hopefully beyond destructive hands.
Unless the team representatives go back on an early decision, four ballclubs and their fans will be spending Christmas evening at the 55,000-capacity Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan for the 43rd season’s first Manila Clasico encounter between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Star Hotshots.
For good measure, a curtainraiser pitting the defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen against either the Alaska Aces or the NLEX Road Warriors has been thrown in to raise the energy level past the roof. The Beermen are going for their fourth consecutive PH Cup title.
The 2017-18 PBA format will retrace the previous season’s three conference blueprint, with the Commissioner’s Cup, allowing 6-foot-10 imports, following the Philippine Cup and preceding the Governors’ Cup, which is open to reinforcements 6-foot-5 and below.
Though five weeks away from the 43rd season inaugurals on December 17, team sources are already saying that it is a cinch Barangay Ginebra will bring back the prodigious Justin Brownlee for the Governors’ Cup, and perhaps even for the middle conference Commissioner’s Cup, after leading the Kings to back-to-back championships in the season-ender.
The question then is whether the Meralco Bolts, finalists in the last two Governors’ Cup, will summon for a third tour of duty two-time Best Import Allen Durham to complete a trilogy with his Barangay Ginebra counterpart or recruit a new one.
Also calendared for next year, summer most probably, is the PBA All-Star Week which also follow the previous format with games held in Mindanao, the Visayas and Manila.
Last year from April 26-30, as part of the PBA’s commitment to preparing the national team, three games were scheduled to benefit Gilas Pilipinas. At the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro, the Philippine squad and Mindanao All-Stars battled to a 114-114 draw. Gilas PH then walloped the Luzon All-Stars, 122-111, at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena before wrapping it up with a 125-112 victory over the Visayas All-Stars at the Hoops Dome in Cebu.
Davao City has been mentioned as one of the destinations in next year’s All-Star spectacle.
The four-day trip to Los Angeles now serves as the lull before the storm in Manila as the league governors, including the Group of 5, gather — if and when — to formally welcome the ascension of incoming chairman Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX, and the elevation of Dickie Bachmann of Alaska to vice chairman and Raymond Zorrilla of Phoenix Fuel to treasurer. Also up for discussion are the annual budget, proposals from the board, plans and programs as envisioned by the new chairman and the fate of PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa.
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