PBA wRap: Gilas 2.0 members shine in opening week

MANILA, Philippines - The 38th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) opened with a bang to an over 18,000-strong crowd Sunday, September 30, 2012 and the games that followed showed us there is plenty to look forward to for the rest of the season.

This is the first of Rappler's weekly PBA wRap where we'll give you a rundown of the games, the best performers, our pick for rookie of the week, and other players to watch out for in the 38th season of Asia's first play-for-pay league.

THE RUNDOWN

After 3 playing days, all 10 teams have seen action on the court where we saw both old and new faces in new uniforms showcase their wares on the hardwood. Let's get to it.

Ginebra vs Global Port 

After the spectacle of the opening ceremonies, the fans were treated to a ballgame between crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and new team Global Port Batang Pier (formerly Powerade Tigers). 

The game ended in a 20-point victory, 110-90, for the rejuvenated Ginebra squad who is going back to its run-and-gun style of play. 

Best Player: L.A. Tenorio (2 pts, 10 asts, 9 rebs, 2 stls)
Acquired in an off-season trade following his Jones Cup heroics with Gilas 2.0, Tenorio immediately made impact in a new uniform controlling the tempo of his team's blitz offense.

LA Tenorio goes up for a 3-pt shot in his first tune-up game with Ginebra.

LA Tenorio goes up for a 3-pt shot in his first tune-up game with Ginebra.

Air21 vs Barako Bull

Ronald Tubid played hero tipping in a basket with 9.2 seconds left in the game that sealed the victory for Barako Bull. 

It was a close game throughout thanks largely to the contributions of new Air21 members Nonoy Baclao (18 pts), John Wilson (17 pts), and KG Canaleta (16 pts) who were all acquired in off-season trades.

Best Player: Sean Anthony (18 pts, 9 rebs, 5 asts)
Traded twice in the 2012 draft day, Anthony showed his worth hustling for boards and showcasing his all-around game helping his new team get the win.

Rain or Shine vs Petron 

Governor's Cup reigning champion Rain or Shine Elasto Painters played like a well-oiled machine dominating pre-season favorite Petron Blaze Boosters, 102-86. 

The game saw the debut of 2012 top rookie pick Junemar Fajardo and former Gilas team captain Chris Tiu. Tiu's first pro game was cut short after aggravating his hamstring injury in the second quarter. He managed to score 2 points and dish out 2 assists in 6 minutes of action. 

Fajardo, playing for 38 minutes, struggled on offense scoring only 9 points. He also tallied 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks but much more is expected out of the 6'10" behemoth from Cebu. His numbers pale in comparison to other celebrated big men who entered the league. Check out the numbers in this feature on spin.ph.

Best Player: Jeffrei Chan (20 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts, 2 sts, 1 blk)
The sweet-shooting guard/forward seems to have regained his touch after a dismal showing in Gilas 2.0's last game in the 4th FIBA Asia Cup in Japan.

Talk 'N Text vs Meralco

Talk 'N Text held a comfortable 24-point lead at one point in the game but Meralco furiously fought back and forced an extra period. The Tropang Texters prevailed in the end of the thrilling match-up, 112-110.

Meralco Center Jay-R Reyes delivered one of his best performances as a Bolt finishing the game with 25 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block, but his efforts weren't enough to overturn the game.  

Best Player: Jared Dillinger (20 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts)
The 'Daredevil' made key baskets down the stretch to secure the victory for his team. Dillinger carried over his strong play from the FIBA Asia Cup leading 7 Texters who finished the game in double figures.

San Mig Coffee vs Alaska

Tim Cone continued mastery over his former team after San Mig Coffee Mixers (formerly B-Meg Llamados) scored a lopsided 103-83 win over the Alaska Aces. 

Guard Dondon Hontiveros, one of Alaska's acquisitions in the Tenorio trade, led the team with 14 points but the Aces shot poorly (30.7 % on 27/88 FG) resulting to their demise. They also played sans their top rookie pick Calvin Abueva who is still finishing the NCAA season with the San Sebastian Stags.

Best Player: Yancy De Ocampo (22 pts, 13 rebs, 6 asts, 2 blks)
The 6'9" center has enjoyed a renaissance in his game ever since being under the tutelage of coach Tim Cone. According to PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III, this is De Ocampo's best output in 6 seasons.

Yancy de Ocampo's 22 pts is his highest output in a game over d last 6 seasons or since his career-hi 26 in 06-07 season while still 1/ TNT. — D'PBAologist-uknowme (@thepbaologist) October 5, 2012


RAPPLER'S ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Clifford Hodge (19 pts, 8 rebs, 3 asts, 1 stl)
Meralco's prized rookie forward was instrumental in their bid to come back from a 24-point deficit. He was all over the floor hustling and doing the dirty work. Hodge also logged the most number of minutes (44) among rookies' debut in opening week.

Runners-up:

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR?

Gary David vs Ginebra (9 pts, 1/10 FG, 2 rebs)
The Season 37 scoring champ was limited to just 9 points on 1/10 shooting from the field in his first outing against Ginebra. He gets two chances to bounce back next week as his team, Global Port, faces off with Air21 Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 4:15PM and Talk 'N Text Friday, October 12, 2012 at 5:15PM.

Nonoy Baclao vs Barako Bull (18 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl, 1 blk)
The 2010 first overall draft pick finally had the chance to show he belongs in the league posting a new career high 18 points. During half time, commentator and former PBA player Jojo Lastimosa picks him to be this season's most improved player. His team plays twice next week, Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 4:15 PM against Global Port and Friday, October 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM against Rain or Shine.

Junemar Fajardo vs Rain or Shine (9 pts, 12 rebs, 2 blks)
Big men with his unique combination of size and skill are rare. The youngest player in the league (22 years old) will be under the microscope all-season long as fans wait to see him develop into an absolute beast in the paint. Petron only plays once next week Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM against Barako Bull.

GILAS CAGERS STAND OUT

3 of the 5 best players awarded this week played for Smart-Gilas Pilipinas 2.0. Tenorio, Chan, and Dillinger were all key contributors for the National team. Another player who also played for Gilas and had an impressive showing in the opening week is Jay-R Reyes of the Meralco Bolts.

EXTRA

Five-time slam dunk champion Niño 'KG' Canaleta threw down the first dunk of the season but what the over 18,000 fans who trooped to the Smart Araneta Colisuem on opening day really wanted to see the past week was more of THIS:

Ginebra's athletic rookie Chris 'Air Force' Ellis has plenty of opportunities to showcase his leaping ability as his team plays twice next week, Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM against Rain or Shine and Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 6:00 PM against Meralco Bolts in the PBA's first out-of-town game which will be played at Digos City in Davao. - Rappler.com