IT’S eerily getting frequent that there is something ‘new’ every time the PBA goes to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The league has made history by filling the spacious arena almost to its 55,000-seat capacity in previous conferences.
Today, the league makes its opening ceremonies for its 44th season which will be highlighted for the first time by the Leo Awards.
“First time na magkakaroon tayo ng Leo Awards sa opening,” said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial in a conversation with People’s Journal yesterday.
Three coaches who won a championship each last season as well as individual achievers, including the most valuable player, rookie of the year among others will be feted in a brief, colorful opening ceremonies that will also feature the traditional parade of teams and their muses.
San Miguel Beer’s Leo Austria, Ginebra’s Tim Cone and Magnolia’s Chito Victolero are fighting it out for the coach of the year plum.
The three coaches of the three SMB Group franchises, won a title each in last season. The Beermen won the Philippine Cup, the Gin Kings followed suit by taking the midseason Commissioner’s Cup before the Hotshots of Victolero capped the banner season for San Miguel group with victory in the Governors’ Cup.
To match the glitter of the ceremonies is a lone encounter pitting perennial crowd-drawer Barangay Ginebra against Talk ‘N Text in a game between two teams that are both hungry for the prestigious title which is crown jewel of the season.
The Gin Kings and the KaTropa meet at 6:30 p.m.
Both the Gin Kings and the KaTropa interestingly were defeated by the Beermen in the playoff round in the last edition of the kickoff conference.
Most of the teams became so busy during the season break, and the Gin Kings, in the words of Cone, seem to have not much of the preparation, but the league’s mots popular team remains optimistic just the same.
“Our short prep since our return from our break will hamper us some, but we’re pretty much at full strength health-wise,” said Cone.
The Gin Kings have not won the Philippine Cup since the 20016-2007 season, while the KaTropa won it last during the 2012-2012 season.