18 September 2015

Expectations and Questions About the PBA's 41st Season

PBA 41st Season
the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) kicks off its 41st season on 18 October 2015, fans and uncritical followers who can’t think beyond their favorite teams should expect more questions and temper their expectations.

What is certain is that the strong teams only became stronger, while the weaker teams will not be making any major dent in the current social standings. Nobody should expect the Barako Bull, Blackwater Elites, NLEX Road Warriors and Mahindra Enforcers (Kia Sorrento) to win any major titles in the next two years. The rest though are all legitimate contenders, even Global Port Batang Pier.

What PBA fans should also take hold of is that the changes might be too brazen for their delicate sensitivities, while some subtle ones need a closer look to be noticed.

The Format
The league will continue to use the three-conference format, starting with the Philippine Cup. The Commissioner's Cup and the Governors' Cup are the second and third conferences in the upcoming season.

As expected, the league will continue to enforce the handicapping system among imports for the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cup. The least performing teams at the bottom of the standings after the season-opening Philippine Cup will be allowed to tap imports of unlimited height in the Commissioner's Cup.

The rest of the teams will be allowed imports no taller than 6-foot-9.

In the Governors Cup, the bottom four teams as per the combined elimination round results of the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup, will be given the leeway to tap reinforcements with a height of 6-foot-9.

The top eight teams on the other hand, are allowed the regular height limit for imports of 6-foot-5.

Tapping the services of Asian import in the season-ending tournament will also be enforced but only on the option of teams, with a height limit of 6-foot-3.

This season will also be the first season of Chito Narvasa as the PBA commissioner Chito Salud announced his resignation at the end of the 2014–15 season. Salud, however, will remain with the PBA as he will be the new President and CEO of the league.

The first event of the season was the 2015 PBA draft which was held last 23 August 2015 with Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa selected as the first pick by the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters.

Coach Tim Cone
After much speculation, the 18-time PBA champion head coach Tim Cone has taken the helm at Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

The announcement was made official during a press conference held at the headquarters of the San Miguel Corporation last 23 July, which was attended by Cone himself and members of both Purefoods and Ginebra management.

Jason Webb, an assistant coach of Cone’s last PBA season with the Hotshots, will now take over the team as head coach.

There were many reports surfacing throughout the early part of this year that Cone was set to take over the popular Ginebra franchise, which has gone without winning a PBA championship for over the past 8 seasons.

The Endless Journey of Larry Rodriguez
Who would have thought that forward Larry Rodriguez would be a vital piece that will retain the structural strength of PBA powerhouse teams and at the same time deprive weaker teams with a franchise players from where they could have built their future.

The 6-foot-5 veteran was made available by the Rain or Shine Elastopainters during the PBA dispersal draft to help strengthen the new teams, Kia Sorrento and Blackwater Elite, before the 2014-2015 season. He was not picked by either of the two.

The big man from Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) was later traded to the Tropang Texters for their 2015 and 2019 second round picks. Everything would have been fine at this point, until the next set of transaction cast doubt on the legitimacy of Blackwater’s intention in joining the league.

In the most questionable move ever by the Elites, they sent their 2015 first-round pick (Moala Tautuaa) to Talk 'N Text for journeyman KG Canaleta. Blackwater then shipped Canaleta to NLEX for Alas, who was immediately shipped by the Dioceldo Sy-owned team to the Tropang Texters for its 2015 first-round pick and veteran forward Larry Rodriguez.

In essence, the Elites traded their rights to Tautuaa in exchange for the Texter’s pick, which turned out to be Art dela Cruz and a player that they could have acquired from the dispersal pool for free.

The 9th pick from the 2008 draft was later moved back again to the Texters to facilitate the transfer of Jimmy Alapag to the Meralco Bolts, while the Elites gained Mike Cortez and James Sena.

The Dismantling of Barako Bull
After ending their last conference during the 2014-2015 season at sixth place with a 6-6 win-loss record, most of PBA followers thought that maybe the management had a change of heart and wanted to win this time.

A few months after the end of the 2015 Governor’s Cup, the Energy Drinks traded the vastly improving Carlo Lastimosa to Blackwater in exchange for Brian Heruela. The trade followed after Barako dealt their number one assist player and shooting guard Joseph Yeo in exchange for the Batang Pier's 2016 first round draft pick.

Barako later shipped the hulking Heruela to San Miguel Beer for seldom-used Jeric Fortuna.

To help another San Miguel Corporation (SMC) teams, the Barako Bull Energy gave away their 2016 first round pick and forward Nico Salva to Barangay Ginebra in return for three guards: Josh Urbiztondo, Eman Monfort and Jens Knuttel.

Together with RR Garcia and Chico LaƱete, the Barako Bull has now a total of six guards in their official roster. Talk about security agency.

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