What a way to start the new conference for both teams ! Both teams got involved in that huge 5 team 10 man trade and the teams traded a lot of their players for one another. Here is the recap of that trade :
Barako In/San Mig Coffee Out: Jonas Villanueva, JC Intal and Aldrech Ramos
Barako Out/San Mig Coffee In: Alex Mallari, Leo Najorda, Lester Alvarez and a 2014 1st round pick
All the players involved would love to prove their former teams wrong. And the management of both teams would also like to prove that they made the right moves.
Its interesting to see the matchup of the new imports. Evan Brock of the Barako Bull maybe a new comer in the PBA but he is quite familiar with Philippine basketball, winning championships in the ABL for Indonesia Warriors against the Manila teams. Meanwhile, Matt Rogers will try to fill the big shoes of last year’s championship hero, Denzel Bowles. Both imports tried out in the NBA but failed to make the cut, and both played in the D-league. Lets see if they can handle the physicality of the PBA and the pressures of carrying a team for a whole conference.
SMC had a disappointing finish in the last conference. What better way to bounce back by defending the Commish cup title, perhaps in dramatic fashion as well. James Yap struggled during the last few games of their semi-finals against ROS and he will prove to everyone that he is still King James. Meanwhile, the new players of Barako are eager to strut their stuff, and their “active consultant”, former Gilas drillmaster Rajko Toroman might just be what the Barako team needs as they want to improve after a dismal 1st conference. Maybe there would be a feeling out process during the 1st half but I expect the veteran team in SMC to eventually pull this one off and start their title defense in a bang. SMC by 7.