PBA is back

September 20, 2022 Robert Andaya 596 views

THE much-awaited PBA Commissioners Cup finally kick off Wednesday with an explosive double-header pitting Blackwater Elite against the visiting Bay Area Dragons and NorthPort Batang Pier against Phoenix Super LPG at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Opening-day action begin at 3 p.m. with Blackwater parading Troy Rosario and Gab Banal, who were acquired from TNT via NLEX in exchange for Brandon Ganuelas- Rosser and two future second round draft picks, and Bay Area fielding in a veteran-laden team built around former Orlando Magic mainstay Andrew Nicholson.

“Troy and Gab give us plenty of playoff experience. Right now, chemistry lang ang problema. But we can build that through time,. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out the chemistry with those two.

We’d like to see what both of them can give us,” said Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia.

Vanguardia said his import, former Loyola Chicago standout Cameron Krutwig, is also expected to deliver in this import- flavored conference.

“Iba ang ipapakita nitong laro. Very European way. He can dominate in other departments, not just in scoring,” said Vanguardia, referring to the 23-year-old import who last played in Belgium.

Krutwig is expected to go up against Nicholson, the 32-year-old Canadian who played a total of 285 games with Orlando, Washington and Brooklyn.

The NorthPort-Phoenix encounter at 5:45 p.m. is also worth watching.

The Batang Pier will bring in balik-import Prince Ibeh while the Fuel Masters will field Kaleb Wesson as they look to bounce back following a disappointing 3-8 finishes in the recent Philippine Cup.

NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio is hoping the 28-year-old Ibeh will play as well as he did during the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup where he led the team to No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals.

The Batang Pier, however, squandered a twice-to-beat advantage against eventual champion San Miguel Beer.

Expected to join Ibeh in NorthPort’s starting line-up are veteran Arwind Santos, Robert Bolick, Kevin Ferrer and Roi Sumang.

Wesson, on the other hand, is one of the youngest imports in this year’s veteran-laden list at age 23.

But the 6-10 center-forward is fresh from his stint with the Maccabi Rishon LeZion team in the Israeli Basketball Premier League earlier this year.

A native of Westernville, Ohio, Wesson spent three years with Ohio State in college basketball and applied for the NBA Draft in 2020.

Although he went undrafted, he signed with the Golden State Warriors but was released on Dec. 18, 2020.

With ace gunner Matthew Wright gone, Phoenix is expected to pin its hopes on Jason Perkins, Sean Anthony and Wesson.

Meanwhile, the PBA announced plans to return to Philsports Arena in Pasig, one of its original homes, this conference.

Commissioner Willie Marcial said he has already met with new Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala regarding the PBA’s plans.

Games Wednesday:

(Mall of Asia Arena)
3 p.m. — Blackwater vs. Bay Area
5:45 p.m. — NorthPort vs. Phoenix