by Tito S. Talao
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Air21 vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Alaska vs Talk ‘N Text
Alaska Milk opens defense of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup against Talk ‘N Text today even as Air21 takes on Globalport when the second conference kicks off at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alaska and returning import Robert Dozier, who swept Vernon Macklin and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the best-of-5 Finals last year, take on the Tropang Texters and Richard Howell at 8 p.m.
Air21 and Herve Lamizana, meanwhile, test the mettle at 5:45 p.m. of Globalport, now coached by former University of Santo Tomas mentor Pido Jarencio, and its import Evan Brock, who suited up for Barako Bull before. Howell played college ball at North Carolina State and is an NBA D-League veteran while Lamizana, from the Ivory Coast, is formerly of Rutgers University.
While the Aces are looking to defend their crown, idle San Mig Super Coffee are eyeing a more valuable prize – the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Mixers defeated the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 4-2, in a tumultuous and walkout-marred Philippine Cup Finals last week and are lined up for a potential Grand Slam. Coach Tim Cone passed the legendary Baby Dalupan with 16 titles and is one of only four coaches to have swept all three conferences in one season, having done so with the Aces back in 1996.
They will make their debut, along with former Brooklyn Nets player James Mays, against Globalport on March 12 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meantime, the possibility of Gilas Pilipinas joining the third conference – the Governors’ Cup – as a guest team has been raised following coach Chot Reyes naming 17 PBA stars to the RP pool, including those who suited up in the unforgettable FIBA Asia Championship last year.
Added to the squad that finished second to Iran and qualified to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain this August are Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, San Miguel Beer’s Marcio Lassiter and Meralco’s Jared Dillinger.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios said having the national team play in the PBA could be a win-win situation although he made it clear everything will have to be coursed through and approved by the PBA Board of Governors and the Office of the Commissioner.
“For you to become the 11th team may be good because there are many of our countrymen who wanted to see you in the flesh. Hindi naman lahat yan makakapunta sa Spain,” Barrios, as quoted by Spin.ph, told the Gilas pool during its first meeting last Monday.
“Whether it’s approved or not, we’ll have another configuration and then we’ll wait and see. But indeed, there is a big clamor for you guys to get together as soon as possible,” said Barrios.