By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE season-ending Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)Governors’ Cup kicks off today with a double-header set at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
An import-laden tournament, with height limit for reinforcements capped at 6’5”, festivities will be opened up by the encounter between Columbian Dyip and Meralco Bolts at 4:30 p.m., followed by TNT KaTropa against the NLEX Road Warriors at 7 p.m.
Columbian, which finished at ninth place in the previous conference Commissioner’s Cup, will be bannered by PBA-debuting Akeem Wright, a 33-year-old player who paraded his wares at Kansas State in college before taking his act to different parts of the world.
Mr. Wright will try to help a Columbian team, which will now be coached by Johnedel Cardel, to have a better finish to its PBA season.
Meralco, meanwhile, has brought back former best import awardee Allen Durham to complete what has been an elusive goal for the Bolts.
Led the Bolts in the Governors’ Cup finals in each of the last two seasons, losing each time to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, Meralco hopes third time is a charm for them with Mr. Durham in tow.
“AD is a good player and we expect him to make us competitive,” said Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black on the decision to bring back Mr. Durham even as he said that he is looking to get more from young guns Baser Amer and Chris Newsome in the about-to-start tournament.
In the second game, TNT begins its campaign that will have it led by Mike Glover, who previously played for GlobalPort (now NorthPort) Batang Pier.
During his stay with the Batang Pier as replacement in the 2016 Governors’ Cup, Mr. Glover posted steady numbers of 25.7 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, something the KaTropa are banking on exploiting following quarterfinal finishes in the two previous conferences this season.
NLEX, for its part, will be headlined by Oluseyi Ashaolu, who already saw action for the Road Warriors at the tailend of the Commissioner’s Cup.
A veteran of the Japan League, Mr. Ashaolu said he is bullish of their chances in the Governors’ Cup and is looking forward to help NLEX go deeper in the tournament.
The Road Warriors will begin their campaign sans head coach Yeng Guiao, who is in Indonesia leading the PBA-powered Philippine national basketball team at the 18th Asian Games.
In the PBA Governors’ Cup, Barangay Ginebra is the back-to-back defending champion and is looking at adding another title with Justin Brownlee at the forefront.
Tournament format has teams playing in a single-round robin eliminations with the top eight advancing at the end of classification play.
The top two teams earn twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals over the two lowest seeds with the rest playing in a best-of-three.
Semifinals is a best-of-five while the finals is a best-of-seven affair.
Completing the cast of imports are Mike Harris (Alaska), Henry Walker (Blackwater), Romeo Travis (Magnolia), Rashad Woods (NorthPort), Eugene Phelps (Phoenix), J’Nathan Bullock (Rain or Shine), and Arizona Reid (San Miguel).