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TNT battles NLEX in ‘Govs’ opening

By Jonas Terrado

Three teams owned by Manny V. Pangilinan kick off the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup which starts this Friday with the usual doubleheader at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, the league announced yesterday.

The Meralco Bolts, runners-up the last two editions of the Governors’ Cup to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, takes on the Columbian Dyip in the 4:30 p.m. opener before the NLEX Road Warriors meet TNT KaTropa at 7 p.m. without coach Yeng Guiao due to his national team stint in the Asian Games.

Meralco will once again parade Allen Durham, the tournament’s reigning two-time Best Import.

Durham is eager to win the ultimate prize this year after the Bolts fell short in the finals both times.

Newly-crowned Commissioner’s Cup champion Ginebra won’t see action until Aug. 31 against Columbian at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The league usually gives champion teams of the previous conference a long breather before their first game.

Losing finalist San Miguel Beer, on the other hand, will debut on Sept. 1 against NLEX also at the Big Dome while Rain or Shine plays its first game on Sept. 22 opposite TNT in Iloilo City.

Rain or Shine is likewise rewarded with a late start to its campaign after agreeing to lend six players to the Asian Games, namely Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood, James Yap, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga and Maverick Ahanmisi while coach Caloy Garcia is serving as an assistant under Guiao.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said Rain or Shine will play consecutive playdates multiple times once it returns from the Asian Games.

New Phoenix star Calvin Abueva takes on Alaska for the first time since last week’s trade on Aug. 29 at Araneta while Durham and Meralco meets Ginebra in a finals rematch on Oct. 7 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Ginebra and San Miguel clash in their first faceoff since the Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Sept. 23 while the Kings battle the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in their Manila Clasico encounter on Oct. 28. Both games are slated at the Big Dome.

The elimination round ends on Nov. 4 with the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals. The four best squads get to secure a twice-to-beat advantage against their bottom four teams.

The PBA will take a break from Sept. 6 to 18 due to the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers window as Gilas Pilipinas opens its second round campaign against Iran in Tehran on Sept. 13 and Qatar on Sept. 17 in a closed-door home match.