MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will kick off its 37th season on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, with league officials looking forward to another banner season.
The new season officially begins with the league inducting the 4th batch of individuals into the Hall of Fame.
The 2011 class will be bannered by Alvin Patrimonio and Billy Ray Bates, along with Freddie Hubalde, Tommy Manotoc, Mariano Yenko, Tito Eduque and Bobong Velez.
The first game will then pit perennial crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra agains Rain or Shine.
According to PBA.ph, the league officials are hoping to ride the success of the 36th season, along with the boost given by the recent success of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas national team.
The title favorites for the season-opening All-Filipino conference are Talk N Text, B-Meg, Alaska, and Governors’ Cup champion Petron.
Also in contention are Rain or Shine, Meralco, Barako Bull, and Powerade.
Ginebra official Robert Non told PBA.ph that the Kings will continue their “never-say-die” style of play that has made them a fan favorite.
Meanwhile, Talk N Text’s Patrick Gregorio is looking forward to finally seeing Japeth Aguilar suiting up for the Tropang Texters.
“(Winning) 2 conferences out of 3 last season was not bad. It could have been dramatic. We’ll try again this season with Japeth Aguilar joining us after a 2-year wait. We’re looking forward to a great season,” he said.
B-Meg governor Rene Pardo, on the other hand, says the Llamados will have a strong line-up but have yet to completely adapt to the triangle offense of new coach Tim Cone.
“Even if it (triangle) bogs down, I think talent alone can bring us to the championship,” Pardo said.
Smart Gilas effect
PBA chairman Mamerto Mondragon said Gilas’ 4th place finish in the recent FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, will benefit the PBA.
“Undoubtedly, the success of Smart Gilas brings basketball higher to the consciousness of the fans. The entry of Gilas players to the PBA will energize it,” said Mondragon.
Eight Smart Gilas players led by star point guard JV Casio, the number one pick in the Rookie Draft, will be taking their talent to the PBA.
Casio will be playing for the Powerade Tigers, along with number 4 pick and Gilas teammate Marcio Lassiter.