Defending champion Talk N Text Tropang Texters start the defense of their 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup title with a handicap as they play all-Filipino against the Blackwater Elite 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Following that is the tiff between the Star Hotshots and the Meralco Bolts at 7 p.m.
Talk N Text import Ivan Johnson foolishly got himself a one-day suspension after hitting Blackwater players Poy Erram and Frank Golla in a practice game last week.
Johnson, who led Talk ‘N Text to the crown of last season’s edition of the tournament, serves his suspension against Blackwater.
Despite playing without an import defending champion Talk N Text is still considered the favorite against upstart Elite. Veteran forward Ranidel De Ocampo returns from injury and gives his team the needed veteran toughness.
Blackwater tries to build on its accomplishment last conference where it advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in franchise history. It will lean on import Alex Loughton to lead the youthful squad against the loaded Tropang Texters.
In the second game, former Best import awardee Denzel Bowles returns to start his fourth tour of duty for the Hotshots. Bowles led the then San Mig Coffee Mixers to the 2012 PBA Commissioner’s Cup thrones. The Hotshots are hoping to approximate that performance again with Bowles back in harness.
Bowles joins old teammates James Yap, Peter June Simon and Marc Pingris at Star hoping to atone for their disappointing Philippine Cup conference under rookie coach Jason Webb.
The Star Hotshots face another team eager to atone for a disappointing Philippine Cup campaign in Meralco.
The Bolts managed a single win in their last campaign to finish dead in the Philippine Cup below even former league doormats Blackwater, Mahindra and Barako Bull.
Meralco hopes import Ainze Onuaku can spark a turnaround. Otherwise this may be Norman Black’s last conference as head coach of the squad.
Games Wednesday, Feb. 10
Smart Araneta Coliseum
4:15 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs. Blackwater
7 p.m. – Star vs. Meralco