The journey begins again.

After months of waiting, the PBA season is finally underway. For the San Miguel Beermen, it means another rough journey as they come into the opening conference as the defending Philippine Cup champions. That has to be a good feeling.

Unfortunately for the champs, they’re not exactly 100% in their season opener. It has been well documented that they’ve struggled with a few off-season injuries, not only to star big man June Mar Fajardo, but to sniper Marcio Lassiter and pesky point guard Chris Ross as well. Both Fajardo and Ross haven’t completely healed their injuries from last season while Lassiter is dealing with hamstring issues. Heck, a few others even dealt with flu and fever during the rainy season. It certainly doesn’t help that they open their campaign against the always dangerous GlobalPort Batang Pier squad led by the dynamic guard duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle.

These two teams last met in May during last season’s Governors’ Cup. At that point, the Batang Pier were on a 3-game winning streak while the Beermen were struggling with a 1-2 start. That didn’t matter much as San Miguel clobbered GlobalPort to a 124-102 victory. Not only did AZ Reid catch fire in that game, but they also successfully limited Romeo in the second half.

With their aforementioned injuries to key players and this game being held in Davao City, San Miguel will likely struggle offensively. Their recent performances in out-of-town games can attest to that. They will have to depend on their defense. We can’t forget that they were tied for the best defensive team in last year’s All-Filipino Conference. They’ll look to repeat their defensive effort against Terrence Romeo. That will be easier said than done considering he is primed for a big year after his national team stint. Luckily, the Beermen have a plethora of one-on-one defenders to shade him. They’ll have to watch out for the always-steady Pringle, a wild card in rookie Roi Sumang, as well as a familiar face in former Petron Blaze teammate, Joseph Yeo. Yeo has been vocal about his disdain for his former teammates so expect some sparks, especially with Chris Ross.

With Fajardo at just 80%, it’ll be a rough (literally) outing against GlobalPort’s trio of bangers in Doug Kramer, Billy Mamaril and Dorian Pena. They may be a bit old but they don’t lack for physicality. The back-up bigs are expected to get some extended minutes to relieve their franchise center. Jay-R Reyes and Yancy De Ocampo in particular look to figure into bigger roles after playing limited minutes last season.

This is also a perfect test for new boys Brian Heruela and Ryan Arana, players head coach Leo Austria has been gushing about in preseason. Again, with all the injuries, these two will have their chances to shine.

I expect a bit of a struggle from the Beermen, especially in the early-goings as they get their timing back. But with their talent, chemistry and improved depth, I expect them to hold the fort defensively and start their title defense on a winning note. #FearTheBeer


Game Details
TIME: 5:00 PM