Games Friday(Smart Araneta Coliseum)4 p.m. — Magnolia vs NorthPort8 p.m. — Ginebra vs Converge
IN a rare occurrence since 2016, Barangay Ginebra embarks on an import-flavored conference minus resident anchor Justin Brownlee.
Tony Bishop, a former rival from Meralco, takes the mantle in the Gin Kings’ defense of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown with Mr. Brownlee’s doping case from the Asian Games still unresolved.
The Mr. Bishop-powered Gin Kings take their first test tonight at 8 p.m. against Converge (0-2) in the main game of a double-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“He’s a winner,” Tim Cone said on Play It Right TV, counting on Mr. Bishop to deliver like he did in his previous gig with the Meralco Bolts in the 2021 Governors’ Cup under the shadow of the great Allen Durham.
“When he came in and took the place of Allen Durham, everybody thought nobody can replace Allen Durham and there’s no way Meralco can get to the finals without Allen Durham. And he took the team to the finals,” he noted.
Mr. Brownlee has been a regular fixture for the crowd darlings in the last 10 import conferences. One time, Ginebra went with a different guy — Carlos Garcia of Belize — in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup but after a 1-3 record, called Mr. Brownlee back in.
Another key point of interest in Ginebra’s Season 48 debut is how off-season signing Maverick Ahanmisi blends with stalwarts Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo and Stanley Pringle.
Meanwhile, Magnolia (2-0) and NorthPort (2-0) engage in an explosive clash for the solo lead at 4 p.m.
Hotshots coach Chito Victolero braces for a dogfight with Bonnie Tan’s crew. He tasked the Hotshots led by Tyler Bey, Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca to be at their best against Batang Pier counterparts Venky Jois, player of the week Arvin Tolentino, and newbies Cade Flores, Brent Paraiso and Fran Yu. — Olmin Leyba