SMB, Blackwater, TNT play in tough Terrific 12 cagefest.
PBA teams San Miguel Beer, Blackwater, and TNT Katropa mix it up with some of the best ballclubs around Asia in the Terrific 12 tournament that kicks off today at the Tap Seac Multi-Sports Pavilion in Macau.
The Beermen, Elite, and Katropa departed for the former Portuguese territory on Monday for the week-long meet that features nine other squads from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), Korean Basketball League (KBL), and the J League of Japan.
Each team is allowed to field in two imports for the event annually organized by Asia League Limited.
The grand slam-seeking Beermen, reinforced by Desmine Wells and Lester Prosper and five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, see action in the 7 p.m. main game on opening day as they battle the Zhenshen Aviators featuring 7-foot-2 former Chinese national team member Li Muhao and imports Pierre Deshawn and former NBA player Shabazz Nagee Muhammad.
Fajardo is coming fresh from a stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the last FIBA World Cup in China along with the TNT Katropa duo of Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy.
San Miguel is bracketed in Group B together with Zhenshen and defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings.
Blackwater opens hostilities at 3 p.m. when it goes up against two-time KBL champion Seoul SK Knights. The Elite will have Marqus Blakely and Alex Stepheson for imports, while the Knights will be parading Aaron Haynes and Jameel Warney, who briefly played for the Dallas Mavericks.
Joining the Elite and Knights in Group A is Chiba Jets.
Bannered by former NBA player KJ McDaniels and one-time Mighty Sports reinforcement McKenzie Moore, the Katropa will have their hands full against title contender Liaoning Flying Leopards.
The Leopards, former CBA champions, are led by Chinese national team members Guo Ailun and Zhao Jewel and will be powered by two former NBA players in Lance Stepheson and Salah Mejri.
Guo and Zhao were part of the Chinese team that saw action in the FIBA World Cup, while Mejri was a key player of the Tunisia national team which blasted Gilas Pilipinas in the classification phase, 86-67.
TNT, Liaoning, and Nigata Albirex Basketball are bunched together in Group D.
Group C meanwhile, is composed of the Zhejiang Guansgsha Lions, Utsunomiya Brex and Jeonju KCC Egis.
The top team in each group will advance to the semifinals, with the two teams to emerge winner in the Final Four disputing the championship and the $150,000 prize money.