(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Today we look at the most pressing questions entering the new conference.

First off, we’d like to formally welcome 2 of our newest writers namely Ven Dionisio and Alvin Adriano. Ven will be covering the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for the website and Alvin will cover the San Mig Coffee Mixers. As for me, I’ve decided to cover the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters. So if you have any questions regarding those teams, don’t hesitate to contact us via twitter or leave a comment in the section below.

1.) Which team will benefit the most from their imports?

Alvin: Petron. They have a hardworking, legit NBA veteran in Renaldo Balkman. A hardworking big man is what a loaded offensive team like Petron needs.

Nico: I’d have to say Air21. Their team is littered with perimeter players. Between Arboleda, Ritualo, Menor, Custodio, Cortez, Atkins — they have enough players that can pseudo create from the perimeter (I say pseudo because I don’t necessarily believe all of them can do it efficiently enough to warrant possessions). Nonetheless, Michael Dunigan — a center that knows how to play off the ball — will help this team a lot more than what other imports can do for their teams.

Ven: The Batang Pier will be the team that will benefit the most from their import. On paper, this is a team that looks actually pretty good. They actually have a good core with Willie Miller, Gary David and Rabeh Al-Hussaini (yup, haven’t given up on him) and a bench that boasts AJ Mandani, Rey Guevarra, Josh Vanlandingham and Alex Crisano. With a team like that, Globalport should really come into every game with a chance to win.

For some reason, they ended the last conference with 1 win and some bruised egos for sure. I do believe however, that an import can cure the ills of this team. Justin Williams, described as an athletic and physical player that will wreak havoc on the glass presumably sucking in the defense, things should open up for David and Miller and it will also take the pressure of Rabeh and allow him to just play and not worry about the other things.

While this may not be the break-out conference for Globalport, they will surely take a step forward this conference. However, if I had to pick a dark-horse, the Batang Pier would be my pick… and something just tells me that their roster now will not be the same when the conference starts.

Exciting times ahead for this crew for sure.

2.) Can Talk n’ Text sustain some of the momentum from their recent Finals sweep?

A familiar scene for Coach Norman Black (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, InterAKTV)

Alvin: Yes. They are still hungry. They are highly motivated. I’m sure, deep down, they want that grand slam and they are the only team that can do that this year.

Nico: If there’s anything Norman Black can do, it’s sustaining momentum from season-to-season (hello, five peat anyone?). They will carry over the momentum from their Finals sweep and they will likely dominate this season.

Ven: Yup, Talk n Text will still be a force in this coming Commissioner’s Cup, but they will be a force that will be stopped short of the finals. Historically, Talk n Text has never really been a team that excelled in the import conferences. For some reason, TnT imports have never been ones that dominate games. Their strength in the All-Filipino Conferences betrays them when the imports come to town. Talk n Text is one team that doesn’t change its system to accommodate their imports — their imports have to blend in with the system and play TnT basketball. While this still makes them a heck of a team, I feel that it limits what their imports can do and it will leave them handicapped in the upcoming conference.

3.) Can Rain or Shine come back from a humiliating sweep in the Finals?

Alvin: They can comeback from it. Tiu finally showed in the Finals that he can indeed play on a high level in the PBA. Jeff Chan and Paul Lee for sure want to bounce back from a disappointing showing. A 7’3 trigger happy import? Hmm that is interesting, to say the least. As long as they have Coach Yeng, they will fight.

Nico: I find it hard to believe that a team that built it’s character on “hardwork” and “team first” can’t recover from a sweep. They are still deep, they are still good and they still have potential — with fewer injuries from their key guys. And with a 7’3″ big who can “shoot” spacing (to a degree) the floor for RoS’s multitude of perimeter slashers (he did average 36% from 3PT land on 3.1 attempts in a Bulgarian league), RoS will definitely make noise.

Jeff Chan will be at the center of RoS offensive attack (Photo Credit: Paulo Papa, InterAKTV)

Ven: This will be a tough conference for Rain or Shine. You know that they will play hard every single night, but I’m just not convinced that Bruno Sundov is the right import for them. Sure he’s tall (at 7’3), but his NBA “career” saw him average 1.7 points and 1 rebound per game. For a guy that’s almost as tall as Yao Ming, those are paltry numbers. What Rain or Shine needs is an interior presence that will allow them to space the floor better for their shooters and slashers. Sundov is big, but I don’t think he’s capable of playing that way.

4.) What do you think of Japeth’s recent comments?

Japeth is moving on to a new team. (Photo Credit: ph.NBA.com)

Alvin: I agree with Japeth on this one. He is thinking about his future. He is not needed on a loaded team that just dominated the last conference especially with the Commissioner’s Cup “no height limit” rule. He needs to be on a team that can give him 28mpg at least  where he can get at least 16ppg and 10rpg and 2bpg.

Nico: I side with .. Chot Reyes on this one (though the manner with which he made his comments known was not good). Japeth was in no position to ask for a trade — he hasn’t earned the leverage to do so. Talk N’ Text will be fine without him and they’ll thrive even without his help — so he holds no leverage here. He should have just continued to work hard, earn his time and force his coach (Coach Norman Black) to play him minutes — that’s the way it is. You have to work hard — nothing is served on a platter just because the whole country looked to you as the “Filipino that will finally breakthrough the NBA barrier”. If he had just built  a little bit of goodwill (even if he didn’t play a lot), then a simple, quiet request would have been granted by TnT out of respect.

Plus, isn’t it odd that Japeth hasn’t  stayed with a team for a long stretch? He left Ateneo after 2 years to pursue his NBA dream. He wasn’t awarded regular minutes in Western Kentucky — despite being a young and athletic player brimming with potential. And he wasn’t good in the PBA or in Gilas. So what DID he do to earn the right to “demand” a trade?

Ven: Every player has the right to demand a trade. But, in Japeth’s case, he shouldn’t have gone to the media or allowed his demands to leak that fast. Talk n Text is one of the more “classy” franchises in the league, they will trade him if they believe that there’s no future for him with the franchise. The best thing to do now is to have a grown-up sit down with them and place all the cards on the table. I really hope this issue gets resolved soon, Japeth needs to be playing in the Philippines, his countrymen deserve to see how good he can be.

5.) What do you think about Chot’s recent comments?

Alvin: I can’t blame him. Having Japeth ride the TNT bench is still better than Japeth trying to beat them.

Nico: I’ve said my case above.

Ven: If Coach Chot’s comments turn out to be the catalyst that salvages Japeth Aguilar’s career, then I’m 100% okay with his comments. I think it’s good what Coach Chot did, manning up and letting Japeth know what he needs to know. I’m pretty sure Chot wasn’t the only person with that opinion, but he is one of the people that Japeth should have respect for and thus listen to. If he doesn’t  then I am convinced that there is something wrong with Japeth.