Commissioner's Cup titlist Barangay Ginebra and TNT KaTropa, a team aching to redeem itself from forgettable season, clash in the opener of PBA Season 44 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan Sunday.
It's Blackwater versus NorthPort then Phoenix Petroleum against Meralco in the season's first double-header on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before Philippine Cup champ San Miguel Beer begins its title defense opposite Columbian Dyip Friday over at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Also on Friday, Rain or Shine and NLEX mix it up in the 7 p.m. mainer.
The first week of action in the new season will be capped by a Saturday twinbill at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo where Meralco and Blackwater slug it out at 4:30 p.m. then TNT and Phoenix square off at 6:45 p.m.
Governors Cup champ Magnolia and runner-up Alaska Milk play their first game in the season on Feb. 3. It's the Hotshots versus the Texters and the Aces opposite the Elasto Painters.
But the Kings and the Texters take the spotlight during the league inaugurals to be ushered in by the Leo Awards.
"It's a first of its kind - the season-end awards held back-to-back with the season opener, and I'm sure it brings excitement to everybody," said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.
The Kings are once again featured in a PBA opener at the Philippine Arena, first seen in 2014-15 where Ginebra was pitted against San Mig Coffee (now Magnolia).
Coach Tim Cone will have at his disposal the very team with a successful title run last year, led by Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Joe Devance and Scottie Thompson.
Still being considered for spots in the lineup are prospective rookies Tey Teodoro and Matt Salem.
Coming in with a rejigged lineup is TNT following the exit of Terrence Romeo.
The Texters, however, could well be depleted right in their first game in the season minus Troy Rosario and possibly Yousef Taha.
Rosario suffered a broken nose during their tune-up match with the NLEX Road Warriors last Dec. 30.(SB)