THE stage is finally set for the coming 43rd season of the Philippine Basketball Association.
After some doubts and misgivings, the league finally formalized its scheduled opening of the coming season on Dec. 17.
Opening the Philippine Cup will be four-peat seeking San Miguel Beer and retooled Phoenix Petroleum two tango in the lone game of the first play date at 6:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Prior to the initial game of the season, the traditional opening ceremony and parade of teams will first be conducted.
Winners of the All-Filipino conference for three seasons in a row, the Beermen are now bound to shoot for their fourth straight crown as they begin their quest and title defense against the unpredictable Fuelmasters.
As usual, San Miguel, the tournament’s perennial favorite, will once again parade its championship core composed of four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross.
In the other corner, Louie Alas will make his debut as Phoenix’s new coach as he tries to turn the Fuelmasters’ fortunes around.
Aside from Alas, No. 4 PBA Draft pick Jason Perkins will likewise debut for Phoenix.
On the second play date on Dec. 20, it’s the turn of highly-touted No. 2 PBA Draft pick Kiefer Ravena to have his baptism as his NLEX Road Warriors take on the Kia Picanto in the first game of the season’s first double-header at the San Juan Arena.
Following that will be a renewal of rivalry between the Magnolia Hotshots (formerly Star) and the Alaska Aces at 7 p.m.
The Alaska Aces parade two highly regarded new players in No. 5 overall Draft pick Jeron Teng and former San Beda Red Lion Davon Potts.
Teng led the La Salle Green Archers to pair of University Athletic Association of the Philippines championships. Potts helped San Beda win back-to-back National Collegiate Athletic Association crowns .