Global Port Batang Pier, the newest team in the Philippine Basketball Association, will get their baptism of fire right away in the league’s season opening game against the crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings.
PBA operations chief Rickie Santos has confirmed the news.
The Batang Pier are the successors of the Powerade Tigers, whose franchise was acquired by Mikee Romero during the offseason. The team is coming off a controversial tuneup game that saw three of its players – Romel Adducul, Jondan Salvador and Rabeh Al-Hussaini – ejected after getting involved in a melee with Air21 rookie Yousef Taha recently.
For GlobalPort team manager BJ Manalo, playing on opening day against the league’s crowd darling is definitely the best way to welcome their squad.
“What more can you ask for? Playing against crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra, that is truly the warmest welcome we could get,” said Manalo.
“We’re very excited and we can’t wait until opening day.”
Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen doesn’t have an idea how GlobalPort will play them and their 6 p.m. encounter, to be held after the traditional opening ceremonies on September 30, will be the only time that they will be able to study the league newcomers.
“All I know is GlobalPort is a new team, but I’m sure they’re going to prove something,” said Tanquingcen.
Playing on opening day has its share of challenges. Some teams are still building up at this stage while others have just started practices and have only just completed their roster.
“You don’t have any choice. Anyway, maglalaro ka rin lang naman so playing on opening day is something we don’t have control of,” added Tanguingcen. “The rookies and other new players are coming along and learning the system. We will see how they fit in.”
The Kings had a massive buildup in the offseason, trading several of their players to get a marquee player in LA Tenorio while also securing something for the future – an additional first round draft pick next season.
“Of course, he’s LA Tenorio. He plays impressive basketball and he has been playing what is asked of him,” said the veteran coach.
Other key acquisitions for the Kings include rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen, two players picked up by the squad in the first round of the recent draft.
For the Batang Pier, it’s an opportunity to see whether Gary David and Willie Miller, two big-time scorers, can co-exist on the floor.
GlobalPort received Miller as part of the multi-team trade centered on Tenorio. The team, however, had to let go of incoming sophomore JVee Casio.
With Casio gone, David remained as the only key holdover of the Powerade squad that surprisingly entered last season’s finals in the Philippine Cup.