IT'S 2019 and as we flip the calendar of the new sporting season, it's time to make New Year’s resolutions.
As they always say, “There’s never a better time to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t than the start of a new year.”
In the PBA, the new year will officially open with its 44th season on Jan. 13 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
But before the opening buzzer, here are timely resolutions for all 12 teams in Asia's first play-for-pay league.
Rain or Shine (Last year's cumulative record: 20-21)
As good as the Elasto Painters were last season, injuries to their top players -- James Yap, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan and Beau Belga -- kept them out of their comfort zone.
Despite the injuries, the Elasto Painters finished fifth (6-5) before losing to Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals in the Philippine Cup.
In the Commissioner's Cup, they wound up as top seed at 9-2 but lost again to Ginebra, 1-3, in the semis.
The Asian Coatings franchise finished only 10th and did not qualify with only 3-8 record in the season-ending, import-flavored Governors' Cup.
Coach Caloy Garcia and team owners Terry Que and Raymond Yu certainly hope that 2019 would be better.
Phoenix Petroleum (Record: 17-19)
Look for a significant other to the “Beast”.
Calvin Abueva has been a beast for Phoenix and Coach Louie Alas since coming from Alaska last August.
The 30-year-old power forward from Angeles City, averaged team-highs 15.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 11 elimination round games with the Fuel Masters.
Matthew Wright, who was just as efficient with 14.7 ppg on a team-high 30 minutes a game, and rookie Jason Perkins, who was good enough at 12.9 ppg, could be the guy this season.
This year, the Fuel Masters should also maintain their focus and intensity not only in the elimination but in the playoffs as well.
Learning a thing or two from last year's 0-2 setback to Meralco despite a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal could boost their chances.
Meralco (Record: 19-22)
Find their passion to the game.
Now on its ninth year in the league, the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned franchise has yet to win a title despite having some of the biggest stars the league.
Twice the Bolts finished runner-up to Ginebra in 2016 and 2017 PBA Governor’s Cup.
Baser Amer, Cliff Hodge and Chris Newcome have shown they can play with a lot of emotions. Now, Meralco fans hope they can come out with the same intensity enough to translate it to Ws.
The Norman Black-mentored Bolts should also feel better once they can let go of expectations of the past, start from scratch nd rediscover their passion to the game.
NLEX (Record: 17-25)
Acquire (or discover) a new superstar while Kiefer Ravena is still in limbo.
Let’s face it: Ravena is supposed to be the “Face” of the franchise ever since he was selected as the No. 2 overall pick during the 2017 draft.
A proven winner since his Ateneo days in the UAAP, the 25-year-old MVP proved as good as advertised with averages of 15.4 ppg and 5.3 apg in 11 games during the 2018 Philippine Cup and 17.2 ppg and 5.6 apg in only five games in the Commissioner's Cup.
But the FIBA-ordered 18-month suspension on Ravena after he tested positive for a banned substance on May 2018 changed it all.
This year, the Road Warriors and Coach Yeng Guiao need to acquire another superstar player to lead the team that already include Larry Fonacier, JR Quinahan, Kevin Alas and the ageless Asi Taulava
Blackwater Elite (Record: 13-21)
Get more wins, make the semis.
A founding member of the PBA D-League, Blackwater is one of three expansion teams which entered the league in 2014
Handled by Coach Leo Isaac and then Bong Ramos, the Elite posted a 13-21 record in three conferences last season.
The team’s best finish was fifth in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup, compiling 7-4 record before losing to eventual champion Magnolia in the quarterfinals.
That should serve as enough motivation for Blackwater and players JP Erram, Allein Maliksi, Mac Belo, Mike DiGregorio and Rabeh Al-Hussaini to do better.
Columbian Autocar (Record: 6-27)
Learn to win games.
The Dyip have to figure out a way to finally win more games than the six they had all season long in 2018.
Drafting NCAA superstar CJ Perez of two-time NCAA runner-up Lyceum of the Philippines is a good start for the Dyip and Coach Johndel Cardel.
A certified game-changer, Perez could be the answer to the long-suffering franchise, which entered the league in 2014.
Last year, the Dyip won only one game each in the All-Filipino and Governors' Cup and went 4-7 in the Commissioner's Cup to finish ninth overall.
Perez is expected to turn things around, with help from Rashawn McCarthy, Jay-R Reyes, Jack Corpuz and Jon Gabriel.
As PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial would love to say every new year: “Let’s all be better in 2019.”
NOTES -- Happy Three Kings to all.
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