WITH NEW RULES, ALL EYES ON GINEBRA-RED BULL TIFF
Beefed up Welcoat and Coca-Cola squads collide
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Taking into consideration the loss of two biggies provides a not-so-good indication with regards to Barangay Ginebra's aspirations to keep the Philippine Basketball Association's most coveted trophy.
Although Eric Menk and Billy Mamaril is still around to man the front court for the Kings, the absence of energetic power-forward Rudy Hatfield and reserve center Andy Seigle considerably weakened their middle – a key spot that most teams fortified during the off season.
As if losing those two biggies isn't enough, high scoring guard Mark Caguioa reportedly will be missing his team's first two games with a shoulder injury and do-it-all center Rafi Reavis is still listed as doubtful.
With those frustrating developments, the defending champion Kings are bracing for a tough encounter when they make their debut in the 2007-08 Smart PBA Philippine Cup against the equally depleted Red Bull Barakos at 6:30 Friday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome.
But it isn't exactly a hopeless case for the Kings since the Barakos are waging their campaign this season with their three biggest stars – Lordy Tugade, Rico Villanueva and Larry Fonacier – dealt to Magnolia on separate trades last year and during the off season.
Notwithstanding what is left of the two teams, jaded observers believe the Red Bull-Barangay Ginebra encounter still has the trimmings of a championship game, noting the new rules being implemented by the league suits the Barakos’ and the Kings’ style of play.
The Coca-Cola Tigers- Welcoat Dragons game scheduled at 4:35 p.m. also promises to be one heck of an encounter.
After a disappointing first year in the league, the Dragons beefed the team up by landing Fil-Am Joe Devance with their No.1 pick, then dealt shooting forward Junjun Cabatu for veteran forward Nic Belasco..
"We're not yet a championship contender team. But our new recruits made us a competitive team. We'll see how far we can go," said Welcoat coach Leo Austria.
Coca-Cola coach Binky Favis also made some significant moves in the off-season. He netted free agent Mark Telan and then traded Joseph Yeo to Sta Lucia in exchange for Cesar Catli and Mark Isip to shore up his frontcourt and provide Ali Peek the help he needs inside the shaded lane. (DBC)