(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
6:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs Star
San Miguel Beer starts its drive for a third consecutive Philippine Cup title against Star as the 42nd PBA Season kicks off today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen will field the same core that won the last two all-Filipino conferences against a team that revamped its lineup and coaching staff.
However, three of their players – June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Yancy de Ocampo – have not played in the pre-season to enable them to fully recover from various health issues.
The Beermen are winless in three tune-up matches, but SMB coach Leo Austria is unfazed.
“We’re ready to play,” said Austria. “We’re ready to defend the championship, although we know that it’s going to be tough since other teams have also improved the composition of their lineups, like Star,” Austria said.
“We expect the game to be competitive. We played them in a pre-season game and they have improved and really got stronger with the addition of new players Paul Lee and Aldrech Ramos, plus a talented rookie in Jio Jalalon,” he added.
Star let go of James Yap to obtain Lee from Rain or Shine while Ramos was taken from Mahindra.
Jalalon, on the other hand, was picked during special rookie draft from the Gilas Cadet pool.
Star’s new head coach Chito Victolero, who replaced Jason Webb, said their 2-1 record during pre-season games is a good sign, but is wary of San Miguel Beer.
“Malaking challenge talaga… kumbaga umpisa pa lang ng laban war na agad, kasi kalaban namin defending champion,” said Victolero. “Pero sabi ko nga sa mga players, makaka-harap at makaka-harap naman natin sila, so mabuting ngayon na.”
“Ang team naman naming, anjan na yung talent e. Ang importante na lang sa amin is magtulung-tulong kaming lahat, give the effort even on little things and have the right attitude sa game. Kung lahat na ’yun magawa namin, pati ’yung game plan, may chance kami siguro na manalo,” said Victolero.
An elaborate opening ceremonies will be held before the match with 12 teams parading their respective muses.
The muses are: Bb. Pilipinas Universe Maxine Medina of the Meralco Bolts, Miss Global England 2015 Sophia Rankin of Mahindra, Bb. Pilipinas Int’l-Miss Int’l 2016 Kylie Verzosa of Star, Mutya ng Pilipinas Miss Tourism Int’l Justine Mae San Jose of Rain or Shine, Bb. Pilipinas 1st runner up Angelica Alita of TNT KaTropa, actress Kim Domingo of Ginebra, Daiana Menezes and Janelle Olafson of Blackwater, TV host Valeen Montenegro of Globalport, Yassi Pressman of San Miguel, Margo Midwinter of NLEX, Elisse Joson and Sofia Andres of Phoenix and Ciarra Bachmann of Alaska.