3 p.m. — Terrafirma vs Converge
5:45 p.m. — NLEX vs Rain or Shine
NLEX begins its post-Yeng Guiao era and Mr. Guiao commences his post-NLEX coaching chapter simultaneously today — against each other.
The Road Warriors and Mr. Guiao, now at the helm of Rain or Shine, meet again three weeks after their mutual parting of ways, only this time they’re on opposing sides in an intriguing PBA Commissioner’s Cup tussle.
The explosive encounter is set at 5:45 p.m. with both parties determined to get a winning start at the other’s expense.
Also intent on posting their first wins in the mid-season tournament are Converge, under debuting coach Aldin Ayo, and Terrafirma, which open the day’s hostilities at 3 p.m. at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The PhilSports Arena, site of the most intense of hardcourt actions in the 1980s and early 1990s, hosts the Friday double header to mark its return as one of the PBA’s regular hubs for Season 47.
Mr. Guiao and NLEX ended six years of partnership highlighted by two semifinal appearances last Sept. 2 in a split that came as a shock to most.
The Road Warriors then installed Frankie Lim as their new chief strategist.
However, balik-PBA Mr. Lim, who was appointed only last Wednesday, is likely to give the floor to Adonis Tierra in this clash with ROS and Mr. Guiao. Mr. Tierra, one of Mr. Guiao’s assistants, supervised the Road Warriors’ training during the coaching vacuum.
Mr. Guiao is on his second tour of duty with the Elasto Painters, whom he previously handled from 2010 to 2016 and led to two championships.
He aims to whip the current ROS group of veterans Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood and Jewel Ponferada and young guns like Rey Nambatac, Anton Asistio, Andrei Caracut, Mike Nieto, Gian Mamuyac, Santi Santillan and Shaun Ildefonso with Steve Taylor as import into playoff contention. The E-Painters missed the quarterfinals of the last two conferences.
NLEX, for its part, made a major change recently. The squad shipped out rising star Calvin Oftana and Raul Soyud in a three-way trade with Blackwater and TNT and acquired Fil-Am top rookie pick Brandon Rosser, who joined the core led by Kevin Alas, Don Trollano, Justin Chua, JR Quinahan and record-seeking veteran Asi Taulava.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ayo tries to bring his championship pedigree from the collegiate ranks in his reteaming with former wards Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Aljun Melecio and Kevin Racal at the FiberXers’ camp. Former NBA player Quincy Miller beefs up the first-year franchise that looks to pick up from its seventh place finish in the Philippine Cup.
The FiberXers kick off their drive against a Lester Prosper-bannered Dyip crew raring to snap a 16-game skid dating back to last season’s Governors’ Cup. — Olmin Leyba