A total of 19 players will make their PBA debuts, while 15 others will be playing for their new teams when the Philippine Cup kicks off on Oct. 19 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Leading the league’s new faces is Globalport freshman Stanley Pringle, the No. 1 overall pick in last August’s PBA Rookie Draft who is expected to play a key role for the Batang Pier this season.
Another newcomer is eight-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is coach/player of expansion team Kia Cars.
The 35-year-old Pacquiao, who plays point guard, is also an active evangelical preacher and an elected congressman in Sarangani Province. He was picked No. 11 overall by the Sorentos.
Aside from Kia Cars, the league will also welcome two new teams this season, expansion squad Blackwater and North Luzon Expressway, which purchased the franchise of Air21.
NLEX actually has the most number of rookies in its roster with four, explosive guard Kevin Alas, John Byron Villarias, Jeckster Apinan and Raul Soyud, who is on the reserve list.
Rain or Shine originally selected the 6-foot-1 Alas.
With a heavy guard rotation, Elasto Painters Coach Yeng Guiao decided to trade their second overall pick, which Alas, last week to the Road Warriors in exchange for a 2015 first round selection.
Globalport has the second most with three as, aside from Pringle, it also included to the team Roider Cabrera and Anthony Semerad, who is not in the official line up but is expected to be included once he finishes his obligation with San Beda College in the NCAA.
Alaska, Barako Bull, Blackwater and Kia have two rookies each.
The Aces have Chris Banchero and Rome dela Rosa, Jake Pascual and Phil Paredes will suit up for the Energy Cola, the Elite have Juami Tiongson and Brian Heruela, while another rookie for the Sorentos is Kenneth Ighalo.
Other rookies in the PBA this season are Barangay Ginebra’s Rodney Brondial, Meralco’s Philip Morrison, Rain or Shine’s Jericho Cruz, San Miguel Beer’s Ronald Pascual, and Talk ’N Text’s Matt Ganuelas.
Interestingly, Grand Slam champion San Mig Super Coffee is the only ballclub without a rookie, or even a new player from another team as the Mixers kept an intact roster in their drive for a fifth straight title.
Six PBA teams will welcome new additions to their rotations starting this conference, with Globalport and Meralco having the most new recruits with four each via trades or free agency.
The Batang Pier have Jojo Duncil (from SMB), Noy Baclao (from TNT), Yancy de Ocampo (from San Mig) and Mark Isip (from Barako), while the Bolts have Simon Atkins and Sean Anthony (from NLEX), Ryan Buenafe (from Alaska) and Mark Macapagal (free agent).
Meralco, according to reporteds, is eyeing another free agent in former two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) Danny Ildefonso, while still in the market is fellow two-time MVP Willie Miller.
Barako Bull has three additions in Chico Lanete (from SMB), and RR Garcia and Jondan Salvador (from Globalport), and TNT two with Jay Washington (Globalport) and Larry Rodriguez (ROS). Each with one are Alaska with Eric Menk (Globalport) and Ginebra with Joseph Yeo (from NLEX).
A few coaches will also debut with their new teams.
Following his stint with Talk ’N Text, Norman Black will now call the shots for Meralco, while the spot he vacated at the Tropang Texters will now be filled up by former Meralco assistant coach Jong Uichico.
Former PBA coaches will have another crack in the pro league as NLEX will be handled by Boyet Fernandez, who won a title with the now-defunct Sta. Lucia, Leo Isaac will call the shots for Blackwater, and Leo Austria for San Miguel Beer.