Having seen some tell-tale signs, Globalport owner Mikee Romero and team captain Alex Cabagnot are convinced they have what it takes to be a Final Four contender in the 40th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
“My forecast is that we should be at least in the semifinal round this PBA season,” said Romero in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Shakey’s Restaurant in Malate, Manila. “Our team has three conferences to do that.”
“Of course we want to improve from the last two conferences. With the help of Stan (Pringle) here, and with the other guys, with coach Pido’s (Jarencio) system, sana tuloy-tuloy na. We have a good start (preseason performance), but we can’t be happy and content, preseason lang yun. But it’s a good sign,” said Cabagnot.
Having used to winning championship during their Philippine Basketball League (PBL) days, including a record seventh straight, Romero admitted he was frustrated when they failed to make the semis in the last two seasons.
“Hindi madali yung mga pinagdaanan namin, we were always coming from the bottom. Medyo hindi ako sanay dun,” said Romero, who was accompanied by the team’s alternate governor and PBA Board treasurer Erick Arejola, team manager BJ Manalo, Jarencio and several key players.
“It’s an unfamiliar territory. But that’s part of it… we know the PBA is totally different,” said Romeo, whose team started campaigning in the pro league back in 2012 after purchasing the franchise of Powerade.
Jarencio is likewise upbeat saying the team has nothing to go but up especially with a backcourt tendered by Pringle, Terrence Romeo, and Cabagnot, whom Romero tagged as the ‘three-headed monster.’
Although they twice made it to the playoffs, the Batang Pier lost to the Rain or Shine Painters in the quarters of the 2012-13 Governors’ Cup and again to the same team in the round-of-eight of the 2013-14 Philippine Cup.
The Philippine Cup opens shop on Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan but the Batang Pier will not see action until Tuesday next week when it collides with expansion team NLEX.
In two conferences, Batang Pier had a combined 2-16 win-loss card, both recording a 1-8 slate in the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup that eliminated them automatically in the playoff race.
“I hope it won’t happen again,” said Arejola.
One of the reasons why Romero is confident this season is that he – with the assistance of management and coaching staff – handpicked the players starting with Pringle, fellow rookies Anthony Semerad, Nards Pinto, Prince Caperal and Roider Cabrera to be part of the roster.
Globbalport also added via trades Jojo Duncil, Mark Isip and Noy Baclao. Late last season, they already got Ronjay Buenafe and Keith Jensen from Barako Bull, as well as Yancy de Ocampo from San Mig Super Coffee.
“Our players now is a mixed of young and veteran players. Ito yung team na gusto ni Boss Mikee, palaban. Sobrang laki ang diperensya from last season, kasi ito ngayon makikipag-palitan ng mukha, palaban talaga,” said Jarencio, whose team has a 7-3 record in preseason games.
“For now sa mga nangryari satisfied naman kami, yung weakness hindi pa gaano lumalabas, makikita yan during the regular season, saka kung paano din kami mag-scout ng team, kung paano aatakihin ang kalaban, plus maturity ng team.”
“This is brand new team, we’re back to 0-0, and may target kami. Past is past, yung mga nangyari last season wala na yun. Nag-hukay ako ng malalim sa Baguio doon ko tinapon,” added Jarencio.