GUEST team Bay Area Dragons of Hong Kong and rejuvenated Blackwater Bossing kick off hostilities on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena as the PBA Commissioner’s Cup returns from its pandemic-forced absence.
The Dragons, reinforced by NBA veteran Andrew Nicholson and 7-foot-5 Chinese Liu Chuanxing, plunge into action in its maiden PBA stint right away at 3 p.m. in the opener of a double-header marking the first Commissioner’s Cup play since 2019.
The Cameron Krutwig-led Bossing, the Philippine Cup quarterfinalists who are back on track after a horrible 29-game losing skid, get first crack in an official game at the Dragons, who went on a tear in their pre-tournament tuneups.
The second match features a Phoenix Super LPG squad starting a new chapter minus former franchise player Matthew Wright against NorthPort at 5:45 p.m.
Day 2 swings to the PhilSports Arena on Sept. 23 for an explosive twin bill that serves as the league’s homecoming to its old haunt.
Converge debuts new coach Aldin Ayo at 3 p.m. versus Terrafirma, a franchise that actually gave him his first break as its video coordinator in 2014.
This is followed by the quick matchup between Yeng Guiao and NLEX just weeks after parting ways. Mr. Guiao’s current squad, Rain or Shine, dukes it out with his old Road Warriors charges and his former deputy Adonis Tierra in the 5:45 p.m. mainer.
Set for battles in the meet’s opening weekend at the MOA Arena are the Dragons against the Batang Pier and the Fuel Masters and the Bossing on Sept. 24 and debuting Meralco and Barangay Ginebra versus NLEX and Converge, respectively on Sept. 25.
All-Filipino semifinalist Magnolia launches its bid on Sept. 28 against the Dyip at the MOA Arena while the two finalists from the recent Philippine Cup, champion San Miguel Beer and runner-up TNT, hit the court on Oct. 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Beermen begin their quest for back-to-back versus the Bossing while the Tropang Giga start off against the Hotshots.
With an expanded field of 13, the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations will run until Nov. 27 with the Ynares Center in Antipolo also set to host six playdates.
The schedules of the Dragons, the Beermen and the Tropang Giga have been set to fit in their forays in the East Asia Super League that commences in October. — Olmin Leyba