Games Today (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:15 p.m. – Meralco vs Kia Carnival
7 p.m. – Globalport vs Purefoods
Starring Marqus Blakely, Purefoods puts its title-retention bid in motion as it faces opening day winner Gloalport tonight in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
While head coach Tim Cone will have the hard-working Blakley as reinforcement for one game, the Stars will miss center Yousef Taha, who was meted a one-game suspension and a hefty P60,000 fine for punching Rain or Shine import Rick Jackson during a tuneup game last week.
Purefoods will be at a disadvantage in the 7 pm encounter since another big man, the mobile forward Ian Sangalang, will also be missing owing to an ACL injury on his right knee.
The 6-5 Blakely was called in after original pick Denzel Bowles, who powered the squad to the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup crown in 2011 was measured an inch over the 6-9 limit.
Purefoods also wanted to recruit ex-Alaska import Diamon Simpson but was given a juicier offer to stay with his Spanish club and the Stars finally inked Daniel Orton.
But the former NBAer Orton, who last played in China, will only set foot in the country on Sunday, prompting Purefoods to find a reliable substitute.
Fielding an under-sized import has Cone worried going into the meeting with the Batang Pier.
“We’ve had the reputation as slow starters, but we’re really hoping to get out of the gate quickly this conference. That is one of our main goals. We certainly don’t want to play from behind,” said Cone.
Globalport made its debut in style last Tuesday as the Batang Pier mauled expansion club Kia Carnival, 100-89, despite 7-3 Kia import Peter John Ramos’s massive numbers: 41 points and 20 rebounds.
Globalport guards Terrence Romeo and rookie Stanley Pringle also had solid performances against Kia with 19 and 17 points, respectively, reasons why Cone is expected to put emphasis on defending the two plus the effective CJ Leslie.
“Leslie, Pringle, and Romeo are tough matchups for any team, so we’ll have to find some solutions for them if we expect to win,” said Cone, who will rely on his locals James Yap, Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, Joe Devance and PJ Simon.
Meralco is another team that is also aiming for a 2-0 start following the Bolts’ impressive opening day victory against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, 85-74, with import Josh Davis dropping a 20-20 game – 25 points and 24 rebounds.