MANILA, Philippines – A new Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season kicks off on Sunday, November 17. Anticipation is high especially with the influx of young talent that came via the PBA draft.
Who are the teams and players to watch out for? Rappler gives you a preview of each team and how we expect them to fare in the All-Filipino Conference.
SAN MIG COFFEE MIXERS
Philippine Cup recap
For the second straight Philippine Cup, the Mixers ended up as one of the top two teams, sealing the twice-to-beat advantagew. They survived a gutsy Petron crew but bowed down to a physical Rain or Shine squad in the semifinals.
Yancy De Ocampo
Head coach: Tim Cone
Assistants: Olsen Racela, Johnny Abarrientos, Jeffrey Cariaso, Richard Del Rosario
The defensive-oriented San Mig Coffee likes to keep games low-scoring, averaging 82.6 points a game last season limiting their opponents to lower outputs.
Speaking of defense, the Mixers added a pair of promising big men to bolster their roster: 2nd overall pick Ian Sangalang and D-League shot-block king Isaac Holstein. Sangalang has the most polished game among big men in the draft class, while Holstein will definitely make opposing players think twice before attacking the paint.
And did we mention that James Yap, Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon and Coach Tim Cone are all part of the same squad? SMC is going to be a legitimate contender this season.
June Mar Fajardo exposed the Mixers’ defensive gap in the Governors Cup finals. Clearly, there was no man in their roster that time who was strong enough to stop The Kracken. But with their new recruits, it looks like Marc Pingris and Joe Devance would have more help in stopping not just Fajardo but the rest of the PBA’s strong frontlines.
In just his third year, Mark Barroca is already considered as one of the finest point guards in the league. He can do pretty much everything at the point: hit the big shots, find the open man, and facilitate SMC’s offense with fluidity. As the Mixers’ premier point guard, much will be shouldered by Barroca this season.
Can the Mixers carry over their Governors Cup triumph?
The Mixers are still on a high after winning the Governors Cup just a month ago, and they have added more weapons in their drive to maintain their stature as San Miguel Corporation’s crown jewel in the PBA. Marc Pingris is coming off a phenomenal season, James Yap and Peter June Simon remain two of the best clutch players, and it looks like Coach Tim Cone wants title No. 16, which will let him surpass the legendary Baby Dalupan as the winningest head coach in the league.
Philippine Cup forecast
San Mig is going for back-to-back PBA titles and their intact crew is building a strong case for that bid. – Rappler.com
Check out other team previews: