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.
BARAKO BULL ENERGY COLA
Philippine Cup recap
Parading a veteran lineup, Barako Bull started on a good note, but dropped 8 of their last 10 games as they failed to advance past the elimination round with a 4-10 record. They finished only ahead of GlobalPort's conference-worst 1-13 card.
Mick Pennisi - 38 years old
Mark Isip - 32 years old
JC Intal - 30 years old
Ronjay Buenafe - 30 years old
Denok Miranda - 31 years old
Head coach: Bong Ramos
Assistants: Leo Pujante, Jonas Mendoza, Koy Banal
Denok Miranda is the best new addition. He once played for the national team. From a backup, it looks like Miranda will be elevated to the starting 5 position and be main point guard. Having Mark Isip and Willy Wilson gives the Energy Cola more operators. Ronjay Buenafe will be their main gunner.
Age is a major concern. Their projected starting unit has an average age of 32. 11 players are in their 30s so they might be a step behind if pitted against run-and-gun teams.
Barako Bull lacks star power. Gone are Ronald Tubid, Danny Seigle, Josh Urbiztondo, and Enrico Villanueva who scored in double digits in the last Philippine Cup.
Willie Miller may be a key name in roster but the rest are basically role players. Their aging frontcourt will pose a huge problem when they face the towering frontlines of other PBA squads.
Ronjay Buenafe had his best season with the Coca-Cola Tigers, where he normed over 13 PPG. But his output dipped when he suited up for Rain or Shine and Meralco, which had scorers like Jeff Chan and Mac Cardona. He's back in the spotlight as the primary shooter in the Barako Bull lineup where he will share minutes with another shooter, Mark Macapagal.
Will a 'tried and tested' Barako Bull crew succeed?
Barako Bull traded away their three picks in the 2013 PBA Draft which raised a few eyebrows. Clearly, the Energy Cola opted to go for a battle-tested line-up. .
Two-time MVP Willie Miller, Mark Isip, Denok Miranda, and Willy Wilson spearhead the new cast.
Will history repeat itself for Barako? In 1978, Filmanbank packed their roster with veterans and made the finals before bowing down to Toyota, 1-3 in the finals. In 1990, the Arnie Tuadles-led Presto Tivoli beat Purefoods, 4-3, in the All-Filipino Cup finals.
Choosing experience over youth, their window of opportunity to succeed will last for just a few years given the age of this group. They clearly formed a team that wants to win now, not later.
Philippine Cup forecast
Dead last. Barako Bull is left with a team which may not become a contender nor win many games. Even with a 'battle-tested' crew, the best-case scenario would be winning three games this season. - Rappler.com
Check out other team previews: