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3 p.m. – Phoenix vs Blackwater
5:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Globalport
Elite, Fuel Masters, Aces and Batang Pier hope to put sad past behind.
Four more teams make their debuts today, hoping to have promising starts following frustrating campaigns the previous conference in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
The Blackwater Elite, who will play without one of their key players, take on the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the first game at 3 p.m. before the Alaska Aces face the Globalport Batang Pier in the 5:15 p.m. main game.
Today’s matches come after the midseason conference began last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Mahindra was facing Meralco in the first game while Rain or Shine opened its title-retention bid against its former coach Yeng Guiao and NLEX.
Blackwater will enter the conference dealing with the absence of Art dela Cruz, who earlier this week raptured his Achilles tendon during the Gilas Pilipinas training camp in Tagaytay City. Reports indicate that De la Cruz may miss the entire conference.
That should hurt the chances of the Elite to bounce back from nearly making the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup when they lost their final three games, including a playoff with Rain or Shine and eighth-and-final spot.
Former NBA player Greg Smith hopes to defy the odds for Blackwater, which is looking for more production from rookie Mac Belo, Roi Sumang, Raymund Aguilar, John Pinto and Ronjay Buenafe.
Phoenix made moves during the break by acquiring RJ Jazul from Alaska and rookie Joseph Eriobu from Mahindra. The Fuel Masters are reinforced by Eugene Phelps, the high-scoring import who led the team to a breakthrough playoff appearance in last season’s Governors’ Cup.
Phelps, however, is a stand-in import as Phoenix has yet to find a permanent import for the tournament.
Alaska will have former NBA player Cory Jefferson as import after original choice Octavius Ellis had to leave the country days before the Aces’ opener because of a family matter.
Jefferson is hoping to be the right fit for the Aces, who are out to redeem themselves from squandering a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Cup.
Globalport, which also lost in the quarterfinals by being swept in the best-of-three series by TNT KaTropa, will be bannered by former New Jersey Net Sean Williams.
Williams will try to be the inside presence the Batang Pier are looking to compliment their talented backcourt duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle.