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Oct 19, 2014
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Pinoy basketball fans, the PBA is finally back!

We cheered for our local hoops stars during their stint in the FIBA World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in South Korea, watched with glee at how a professional boxer became a professional basketball player, and got excited for our favorite college stars getting drafted into the pro league.

Now, it’s time to enjoy what all that has gloriously turned into!

Asia's first play-for-pay league will welcome three new ballclubs, two of which had to build their teams from scratch, while the other bought out an emerging team. With more teams playing, we’ll get to see more exciting match-ups, either from a competitive standpoint (Manila Classico is always fun), a curiosity angle (how good is Stanley Pringle, really?), or just for the heck of it (how many sikos will be planted on Manny Pacquiao?).

With so many things to watch for, it pays to be updated on what happened to your favorite teams, players, and on the league as a whole. We make things easier for you by coming up with our own mega, team-by-team preview of the 40th season of the PBA, which will start tomorrow, Sunday, October 19!

 Kampihan na (uli)!


ALASKA ACES

pba previewImage via Spin.ph 

Last season's records:

  • 2014 Philippine Cup: 5-9 in the elims (eighth) in the league, lost to Brgy. Ginebra in the quarterfinals
  • 2014 Commissioner’s Cup: 6-3 in the elims (third), lost to San Mig Coffee in three games during the quarterfinals
  • 2014 Governor’s Cup: 5-4 in the elims (third), lost to Rain Or Shine in five games during the semifinals

What they're all about: The Alaska Aces's past few seasons have been like a love story. After the departure of their first love (legendary coach Tim Cone), the Aces tried to move on quickly. Eager to get past their ex, they found a rebound guy (Coach Joel Banal) who they thought could help them forget quickly. Rebound guy realized he's not the right guy for them, and left the team so they can find someone better.

pba previewImage via Spin.ph 

They ended up with someone who seemed like the ex in Coach Luigi Trillo, and though they would struggle in the beginning, they eventually found their happiness by winning a championship back in the 2013 Commissioner's Cup. Unfortunately, they didn't get a happy ever after; Trillo resigned early during last season's Governor's Cup because of "family reasons."

The team was left in the able hands of Alex Compton (a Caucasian, like the love of their life), who almost steered the Aces to a Finals appearance, but the breaks didn't go their way against Rain or Shine.

During the 2014 Draft, they added a rookie who's proven to be a force in the ABL in Chris Banchero, and a rookie who's been a key piece for the success of the San Beda Red Lions in Rome Dela Rosa. Gabby Espinas will miss some time due to injury, but they beefed up their frontcourt by signing veteran big man Eric Menk. If they can ride their success with Coach Alex, this team could be among contenders by the end of the season.

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Notable roster changes:

  • Rookies: Chris Banchero (PG, 5th Overall), Rome Dela Rosa (F, 1st Pick, 2nd Round)
  • Additions: Erik Menk (C, Trade), Josh Vanlandingham (G, Free Agent)
  • Lost: Nic Belasco (F/C, Free Agent)

Why the team will go far: The players quickly bought into Coach Compton's system last season, and after a training camp with him, they might actually be one of the teams to watch for. With the acquisition of a talent such as Banchero, Jayvee Casio could be able to play off the ball more and be a catch-and-shoot player which he thrived as during his DLSU days. 

Why the team will not go far: They aren't getting any younger, and the physical play in the PBA is not kind to older bodies. Plus, the Aces are historically known to play best with imports; something that could have played a part in their success late last season despite the sudden coaching change.

FHM wonders: Would Chris Banchero consider the possibility of replacing the Alaska Milk boy?

Our fearless prediction for the Phil. Cup: Sixth seed after the eliminations

The Aces are talented enough to compete with the best in the league, but there are just some teams that are a bit deeper. They can probably pull off a couple of surprise wins, but they might be a mid-tier squad, at least for this All-Filipino Conference. For the rest of the season and beyond, it will help if Chris Banchero gives them a bit more stability by committing for longer than the one-year rookie contract he signed.


BARAKO BULL ENERGY

pba previewImage via Spin.ph 

Last season's records: 

  • 2014 Philippine Cup: 5-9 in the elims (sixth), lost to Petron Blaze in two games of the quarterfinals
  • 2014 Commissioner’s Cup: 2-7 in the elims (ninth), eliminated from playoff contention
  • 2014 Governor’s Cup: 3-6 in the elims (eighth), lost to Talk N' Text in one game during the quarterfinals

What they're all about: For all the player movement this team has went through over the years, Barako Bull could change their name to The Farm and everyone will be like, "Pwede." Barako has been known to be a team that's in constant "rebuild" mode, and have failed to create an identity that fans can rally behind. They've traded away veterans and surprise standouts for draft picks they said they'll use to "rebuild" the team. Armed with three straight picks in the deep 2013 PBA Draft, they amazingly traded all three away in exchange for veterans because they have a "win now" mentality. Whatevs.

pba previewImage via Spin.ph 

They started last season's Philippine Cup with a surprising run, and actually qualified for the best-of-three quarterfinals. They were swept, but they almost had people thinking that they had a legitimate strategy that worked. Then they went back to their usual place at the bottom of the standings in the next two conferences. In true Barako Bull fashion, they traded away the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft in exchange for San Miguel Beer's second round draft pick, a 2016 first round draft pick, and little-used guards Jojo Duncil and Chico Lanete. If this Barako team was a chick, she'd probably be the flirtiest one in the whole league.

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Notable roster changes:

  • Rookies: Jake Pascual (F, 8th Overall), Papot Paredes (F/C, 3rd Pick, 2nd Round)
  • Addition: Chico Lanete (G, Trade)
  • Lost: Willie Miller (G, Free Agent)

Why the team will go far: Carlo Lastimosa had a tremendous rookie campaign last season; one of the bright spots to yet another disappointing Barako Bull run. If they don't trade him away and decide to actually build a team that's meant to win, he could be a key piece to a pretty solid core of young players who came from college programs with a tradition of winning. If anything, these players are most definitely hungry for wins.  

Why the team will not go far: Mick Pennisi is the longest tenured player in the squad. While he's not all that bad, he's not "franchise" material. They have traded away players who either broke out (Eman Monfort, Allein Maliksi, and Dylan Ababou to name a few) or revived their careers (Danny Seigle and Josh Urbiztondo are a couple of examples) over the years, when they could have retained them and actually could have formed a more competitive team. There's a lingering feeling that they'll trade away anyone who plays good enough to take them to the next level.

FHM wonders: Does Barako Bull see themselves as “saling ketkets” in this game for big boys?

FHM's fearless prediction for the Phil. Cup: 11th after the eliminations

Despite having more seasoned players in their fold, there are some questions about the team's desire to win. Based on talent alone, they could probably beat newcomer KIA Sorentos. However, in terms of wanting to actually win games, the other newcomer, Blackwater Elite, might have an edge against them.


NEXT: Will the "Gin-novela" continue? 


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