Jan 12, 2019

PBA unwraps Season 44; Ginebra kicks off campaign vs TNT

And it's show time!

The Philippine Basketball Association, the country's No. 1 sports entertainment for over four decades now, unwraps its Season 44 in a Sunday extravaganza at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan highlighted by the season opening game between Barangay Ginebra and TNT KaTropa.

Tip off is at 6:30 p.m.

The Gin Kings are upbeat with their healthy, intact champion lineup while the Texters are motivated with their offseason team revamp that saw the entry of Michael Miranda, David Semerad and Brian Heruela.

Gone is Terrence Romeo and the rift that somehow beset TNT's buildup for the season.

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The Kings are building on their Commissioner's Cup title run last season while the Texters look to relive glory years that saw them won four Philippine Cup titles over five seasons starting in 2009.

There's no doubt, though, that the Kings are to unleash more firepower from their arsenal that can match up with reigning Philippine Cup four-time champion San Miguel Beer.

But the Kings have their anxiety against the Texters, at least at this very moment.

"We feel TNT is real motivated because they have something to prove. They let go of Terrence Romeo. I'm sure it was a tough management decision, and the players have got to prove moving Terrence is the right thing," said Cone.

"They're gonna be motivated to prove that they can win and be better without him. That's our anxiety about them. They're gonna be great," Cone added.

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At the same time, the Kings ooze with confidence with all their major players ready to plunge into action.

"That's the key, to be healthy. Generally, we're healthy. Greg (Slaughter) is healthy, Japeth (Aguilar) is healthy and LA (Tenorio) who's always healthy, is healthy. As long as those guys are healthy, we have enough to be good," said Cone.

Out with health issues are Jeff Chan and Arthur dela Cruz.

With bigger health concern, though, is TNT, with starting big forward Troy Rosario nursing a badly shattered nose bridge. Also with an injury is second-string center Yousef Taha.

But Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy, Ryan Reyes, Jericho Cruz and Kelly Williams will be there to lead the Texters' bid.

David Semerad and Brian Heruela, TNT acquisitions in exchange for Romeo, and Micheal Miranda, a recruit from a separate trade deal, could also be of big help for coach Bong Ravena. (SB)