Boy are we a basketball-savvy country or what. Barely a month after the Petron Blaze captured the Governor’s Cup title, the PBA will kick off its 37th season this Sunday, October 2, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A little trivia: At 37 years, the Philippine Basketball Association is the second longest running national basketball league in the world; the first would be that minority low budget association called the NBA. Ha!
While time indeed flies in this league, plenty of significant events have occurred since the last conference wrapped up: Team Pilipinas nabbed 4th place at the FIBA Asia Championships, the 2011 PBA Draft, a series of team trades here and there, Rudy Hatfield retiring from the game, and a slew of other news a consummate PBA fanatic would know.
In line with this event, here are five storylines that should give us a reason to catch the incoming PBA season:
1. Tim Cone finds a new home in B-MEG
Tim Cone is now coaching the Purefoods team. “Tignan mo sila,” B-MEG Llamados manager Alvin Patrimonio says. “At the back of their minds, ngayong nandito na si Coach Tim, iniisip nila, baka nga pwede silang mag-Grand Slam.” Tim Cone’s famous triangle offense thrills Alvin so much that he started comparing James Yap to Michael Jordan and Mark Pingris to Dennis Rodman. Porque, will they achieve the same success the Bulls and Alaska had during the 90s?
2. Jayjay Helterbrand wants to call it a day
“Daddy really needs to be home right now,” says Ginebra veteran Jayjay Helterbrand, citing his family and injuries as his main reasons for contemplating retirement after the PBA All-Filipino Cup. “Kami na lang natitira dito. We’ve been here the longest,” says teammate Mark Cagouia. So what will happen to “The Fast and the Furious” duo? One more championship sure sounds like a perfect way to call it a career, right Jayjay?
3. Gilas players now in the mix
With Smart Gilas players JV Casio, Chris Lutz, Japeth Aguilar, Mark Barroca, Dylan Ababou, Mac Baracael, and Marcio Lassiter now joining their respective PBA teams, competition is looking to be much stiffer this season. Or it could simply not. It would be a shame to see national team players serve as second and third stringers to other PBA veterans, so here’s to hoping their careers immediately go full circle. But the question is, will they?
4. PBA preps up for the next FIBA Asia Championship
Coming from the close call success of the Smart Team Pilipinas last week, PBA execs have already confirmed news of them allowing lending a pool of 16 players who will be tapped to represent the national team in the next FIBA Asia Championship. “We know that Smart Gilas will not last forever, so we decided to come out with a plan,” says PBA commissioner Chito Salud. It sure would be a thrill to find out which players will be chosen, and soon!
5. Alaska proceeds without their longtime mentor
Cone no longer calling the shots for the Alaska Aces is like Jerry Sloan leaving the Utah Jazz. It's a bitter occurrence that could probably affect the team’s performance for many seasons to come. All the same, the Alaska management and its players must move on, and what better way to start the upcoming season than to have Baguio, Tenorio, and company play under the tutelage of new coach Joel Banal. A title for Alaska this season would be the best way to tell Tim “adios.”