Games Wednesday
(Ynares Center, Antipolo)
4:30 p.m. – Blackwater vs Meralco
7:30 p.m. – TNT vs Rain or Shine

THE CHASE for the PBA’s crown jewel is on.

Blackwater Bossing, the busiest team in the run-up to the Season 48 Philippine Cup, tests its retooled armory that now includes Rey Nambatac and James Yap against intact Meralco Bolts to start off hostilities today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The Bossing and the Bolts take the court at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after which TNT, with Chot Reyes back at the helm, clashes with Rain or Shine at 7:30 p.m.

The Jeff Cariaso-coached Blackwater squad has made a couple of moves post-Commissioner’s Cup. From trades, they acquired Mr. Nambatac from Rain or Shine (ROS) and Jaydee Tungcab and Justin Chua from TNT and from free agency, they signed two-time MVP Mr. Yap after his release from ROS.

The new faces join forces with holdovers Troy Rosario, RK Ilagan, Rey Suerte and Christian David as the Bossing try to bounce back after a 1-10 showing in the previous conference.

“It’s now about moving forward, learning about each other more and improving as a team,” said Mr. Cariaso.

It’s a tough challenge right away against an opponent led by Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, Aaron Black, Bong Quinto and Allein Maliksi who narrowly missed a ticket to the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup.

Meanwhile, TNT hopes to give Mr.  Reyes a welcome-back gift in the form of a victory.

Mr. Reyes has reassumed the head coaching position after taking a backseat last year to concentrate on Gilas Pilipinas duties.

“Looking forward (to coaching return),” said the veteran mentor, who served as senior consultant while team manager Jojo Lastimosa called the shots in the last three conferences. “Hopefully, we can get all our players healthy (throughout).”

After placing eighth in the season-opening conference, the Tropang Giga bolstered their frontline by trading for Brandon Ganuelas Rosser and signing Barkley Ebona. Calvin Oftana, RR Pogoy, Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams are expected to anchor Reyes’ team. — Olmin Leyba