By TITO S. TALAO
SYDNEY – Take your pick of ringside view from Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao. Or watch the historic action on TV for six pulsating hours.
An unprecedented three-game, six-team inaugural special to be served on television at two-hour intervals amid the colorful ambience unique to the country’s three regions will kick off the 2013-14 season of the Philippine Basketball Association on Nov. 17.
Details of the ambitious nationwide opening which breaks new grounds for the 39-year-old league was announced by PBA commissioner Chito Salud Wednesday during the Board of Governors planning session at The Westin Hotel and Resort here.
“We’re bringing the PBA opening day experience closer to where the fans are,” said Salud.
The main course of the gargantuan season curtainraiser is the game between newly crowned Governors’ Cup champion San Mig Coffee and 2013 Commissioner’s Cup finalist Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum at 3 p.m.
Second and third servings will then be available, with current Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska Milk facing off with 2012 Governors’ Cup titlist Rain or Shine at 5:15 p.m. in Davao City, and 2013 Philippine Cup winner Talk ‘N Text taking on Meralco also at 3 p.m. at the New Cebu Coliseum.
Telecast over TV5 will be at 3 p.m. (live) at Araneta; 5:15 p.m. (live) in Davao City; and 7 p.m. (slightly delayed) in Cebu City.
An elaborate ceremony, including the parade of muses, will usher in the San Mig-Ginebra game at 2 p.m. as incoming PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo of the Meralco Bolts declares the new season open and the Kings introduce 7-foot rookie Greg Slaughter, whom they are expected to land with the No. 1 pick overall on Draft Day on Nov. 3 at Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.
The Mixers, conquerors of the Petron Blaze Boosters over seven grueling games in the third conference finals, will also show off probably 6-foot-7 Ian Sangalang of San Sebastian College, whom they are bent to draft with the No. 2 pick, unless Ginebra passes up on Slaughter.
Choosing third is Rain or Shine with draft-heavy Barako Bull exercising its rights to the fourth, fifth and sixth picks. Up next is Globalport, then Alaska, Rain or Shine again, and San Mig Coffee a second time to close out the first round.
All three conferences, starting with the Philippine Cup, will retrace the format from last season, with the first conference going through a two-group, inter-intra setup where teams in one bracket play each other once and those from the other side twice to complete a 14-game elimination round.
Following the draft order, Group A has Air21, Alaska, Ginebra, Petron and Rain or Shine, while Group B has Barako Bull, Globalport, Meralco, San Mig Coffee and Talk ‘N Text. ;
The next two conferences will then have single round eliminations preceding the knockout quarterfinal playoffs.
“We’re following the surefire format of one long and two sprint conferences,” said Salud.
While last season’s format went untouched, innovations were made in the height limitations for imports in the Commissioner’s Cup to “equalize further the balance of strength among the teams.”
Also according to Salud, the top 8 teams after the Philippine Cup will be allowed to recruit imports 6-foot-9 in height while the 9th and 10th ranked teams can go as tall as 6-foot-11.
The 6-foot-5 ceiling for the Governors’ Cup remains under study, however, and will be retained for now.
Games will be on a four-times-a-week basis (Sunday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday).
Meanwhile, Salud has approved the trade sending point guard Chris Ross of Globalport to Petron for back-up point guard Denok Miranda. Originally from Meralco, Ross was included in the recent deal that allowed the Bolts to acquire hot-shooting Gilas Pilipinas member Gary David from Globalport.