The Alaska Aces battle TNT Tropang Giga to kick off the resumption of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup when they clash 4 p.m., Sunday, October 11 at the Angeles University Foundation Gymnasium in Angeles City.
Barangay Ginebra takes on the NLEX Road Warriors at 6:45 p.m. to complete the opening day hostilities meant to restore some measure of normalcy to the country which has been locked down for months to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso says his troops are prepared for what promises to be an exciting humdinger of a match between two squads expected to compete for the All-Filipino crown.
“My biggest concern is they (TNT) have a lot of three point shooters. They’re a three-point shooting team. They work well together. There’s familiarity amongst their players,” said Cariaso.
“I think just being able to defend them from the three-point line is going to be a challenge. Because it is a strength of theirs. We’re concerned about that but we’ve also been preparing for that.”
The Aces will be led by team mainstays Jvee Casio, Vic Manuel, Jeron Teng, Kevin Racal and Abel Galliguez. They will also have a young corps of relative newcomers to the team including Abu Tratter, Robert Herndon, Mike Digregorio, Abel Galliguez, Yutien Andrada, Rodney Brondial and Mer Jesper Ayaay at their side.
The Aces battle a souped-up TNT squad with key additions of big man Poy Erram, shooter Simon Enciso as well as Bobby Parks.
Tropang Giga will have one of the best point guards in Asia in Jayson Castro orchestrating their offense as well as regulars Roger Pogoy, Ryan Reyes and Troy Rosario.
“You know they’re very talented. The off-season they were very busy acquiring a lot of good players like Poy (Erram) and Bobby Ray (Parks). They also picked up our former player Simon Enciso,” said Cariaso.
Both teams will be without key pieces as TNT’s Kelly Williams retired while Sonny Thoss opted out of the Philippine Cup which was being held inside the PBA “bubble” in Pampanga.
TNT barely missed making the finals last conference and is hoping to do better under coach Bong Ravena and assistant coach Mark Dickel. They expect to do even better this conference and even brought their club inside a “bubble” setting before going to Pampanga to resume the PBA.