PBA finally opened last July 16, amidst all drama and controversies. With the pandemic still looming large and no end in sight for all of us, the league tries to have that business as usual attitude. They promise to bring reinforcements and the crowds in the next conference. For the meantime, most of us basketball fans will be treated to triple headers now and then, and some 3×3 action.
Barangay Ginebra will defend its title against a slew of contenders recently reinforced by trades and returning players. But who are these players who can make an impact this season, who can live up to their promise, and take their team all the way to the top? Or probably be traded, or gone?
Here are the ten players we need to watch for this season
1. June Mar Fajardo
“The Kraken is back”, but how much impact he brings to the powerhouse San Miguel Beermen is a question begging for an answer. But despite not being a hundred percent, he is still a force inside, and with him on the line-up, San Miguel Beer is a far stronger team to reckon with. SMB for sure is hoping that he will be back to his MVP form.
2. CJ Perez
How the top scorer last season will blend with the Beermen, as well as with Terrence Romeo, is also another question for most basketball fans. Will he deliver superstar numbers just like in Terrafirma Dyip, or will he play within the system of coach Leo Austria? It is also interesting how the multi-titled coach will manage the minutes of yet another superstar.
3. Joshua Munzon
The overall pick this year, and the country’s top 3×3 player has big shoes to fill owing to the departure of CJ Perez. Many are interested to know whether Munzon will be able to deliver the same numbers as the “Baby Beast.” Other pundits, however, are now guessing or betting as to which team he will be eventually traded. Your guess?
4. Roger Pogoy
With Rayray Parks remaining unsigned, and “The Blur” Jayson Castro advancing in age, RR is certainly the top dog of the TnT Tropang Giga. There is no question whether he can put up big numbers, the question is whether he can bring the franchise back to the promised land. And how will he perform under former Gilas coach Chot Reyes?
5. Greg Slaughter
“Gregzilla’ finally ended his sabbatical but was promptly traded to Northport Batang Pier. Whether he can finally fulfill his potential to be that dominating center to rival “The Kraken” is still anyone’s guess. Former kabarangay, coach Pido Jarencio certainly hopes so. Time will tell whether he is an upgrade or a downgrade from Christian Standhardinger.
6. Jeron Teng
With the departure of Vic Manuel, the Aces bet their future on the former Green Archer, signing him to a lucrative three-year deal. Jeffrey Cariaso and the Alaska Aces believe that with Jeron being the top ace, he can help the franchise end their All-Filipino crown drought, which now stands a cool twenty-one years, the longest in the PBA, and longer than the lifespan of some PBA franchises.
7. Calvin Abueva
Will he behave or misbehave? Will he be up to his antics again? “The Beast” trends and hugs the headlines for reasons which are mostly unrelated to playing the game. He promised however, that all those acts are things of the past. Governor Pardo and coach Chito Victolero certainly hope Calvin will deliver on his promise.
8. Stanley Pringle
“Stan the Man” turned out to be the missing piece that ended the Barangay’s 13 year All Filipino title drought. Some, however, will want to put an asterisk on him winning the equivalent of MVP award last season. To some, others are far more deserving. Pringle will likely end all that talk by winning another title for Barangay Ginebra, but his task is far more difficult now than it was the last time.
9. James Yap
Does he still have a lot left in the tank, or has he finally run out of moves? Numbers are dipping significantly the past few years, and though he remains to be a superstar, twilight might finally be setting in for the man with a million moves. Most people will surely be interested in watching him, for retirement must be just around the corner.
10. Kiefer Ravena
Probably the most controversial player today. Though the league has decided to throw the book on “The Phenom”, some say he is not yet ready to throw in the towel. Considering the circumstances, it would be really intriguing to watch him play. No doubt the best player of NLEX Road Warriors, the controversy might affect his play, either negatively or positively. More than us, however, the Shiga Lakestars will be more than intrigued to see him play.