THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) returns from one of its longest respite as Season 48 unfolds with Magnolia opening hostilities against TNT Tropang Giga in the Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But most of the attention isn’t trained on the Magnolia-TNT game but on Justin Brownlee, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and who the Most Valuable Player would be.
Brownlee is serving an indefinite suspension for failing an anti-doping test at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou last month and in his place for defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is former Meralco import Tony Bishop.
Ginebra opens defense of its crown against Converge on November 17.
Hollis-Jefferson, on the other hand, is down with gastroenteritis and won’t play on Sunday with TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa expecting to go all-Filipino.
San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo, meanwhile, targets his seventh Season MVP trophy against reigning MVP Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra and teammate CJ Perez.
The MVP and the other individual awardees will be announced during the annual Leo Prieto Awards set at 4 p.m.
The opening ceremony is set at 5 p.m. and the Magnolia-TNT game at 7 p.m.
Also interesting to note for the new season is Chris Ross’s role as playing assistant coach, an appointment pushed by San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, for the Beermen who face the NLEX Road Warriors on November 15.
San Miguel Beer will also parade new import Ivan Aşka, who replaced original choice Tyler Stone, in the conference where the height limit of foreign reinforcements is set at 6-foot-8.
Coach Chito Victolero, meanwhile, challenged the Hotshots to prove that their pre-season 11-0 record is no fluk.
Bruiser Calvin Abueva won’t play for at least a month after undergoing hemorrhoidectomy with Magnolia relying on 6-foot-8 import Tyler Bey.
“Some of our players are playing multiple positions and they just need to step up. Calvin [Abueva] is a big factor and he’s superb effort could be done collectively by my players,” Victolero, the seven-year Magnolia head coach, told BusinessMirror Friday.
Lastimosa and the Tropang Giga are also entering the season limping.
The Mikey Williams issue remains unresolved and Roger Pogoy (undisclosed) and JP Erram (knee) are injured.
The PBA went inactive for three months to give way to the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games in May, FIBA 2023 World Cup in August and the Asian Games in September and October.
Image credits: AP