CHRIS Ellis, Keith Jensen, Vic Manuel, and Jason Deutchman will give the fans a glimpse of the PBA’s future when the three heralded rookies make their respective debuts right on opening day of the Philippine Cup this Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ellis, Jensen, Manuel, and Deutchman are set to see action as Barangay Ginebra tests the mettle of newcomer Global Port in the lone opening game set at 6 p.m.
The four are part of the enormous Class of 2012 which not a few had labeled as one of the deepest rookie pools in league history.
Both Ellis and Jensen were first-round picks by the Kings at Nos. 6 and 8, respectively, while the Batang Pier used their consecutive selections at 9th and 10th to select Manuel and Deutchman.
Commissioner Chito Salud said the entry of this new batch of rookies will further stimulate the fans’ interest in the league, which is coming off a record-breaking season in terms of gate receipts.
“We do expect another stellar year with a bumper crop of rookies coming in for the 2013 season,” said Salud in a recent guesting at the PSA Forum where he talked about the new season of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league. “And together with the innovation that we have in the format for this year, we expect that our fans will have another fun year.”
The season’s second playdate on October 3 is definitely as exciting as Petron tangles with reigning Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine in the 7:30 p.m. main game featuring the league’s No. 1 overall pick against the most popular figure hands down, in this year’s draft.
The Boosters unveil 6-foot-10 center Jun Mar Fajardo and No. 3 pick Alex Mallari against an Elasto Painters side that will parade No. 7 selection and former Smart Gilas-Pilipinas team captain Chris Tiu.
The curtain raiser features Barako Bull versus Air21, and while the two teams had no first-round picks – the Energy chose Aldrech Ramos at no. 5 but traded him away to B-Meg – both have promising rookies in their respective rosters in big men Dave Marcelo (Barako) and the controversial Yousef Taha (Air21).
The weekend of October 5 features Commissioner’s Cup champion San Mig Coffee going up against Alaska in a showdown that will see Ramos making his debut for the Mixers while the Aces will miss the services of No. 2 pick Calvin Abueva who will still suit up for the San Sebastian Stags until the end of NCAA season.
Also expected to get a piece of the limelight are freshmen Jewel Ponferada for San Mig Coffee and Alaska’s Raphy Reyes, whom a lot has already been tagging as the clear steal of the draft.
No. 4 overall pick Clifford Hodge plays his first game for Meralco when the Bolts battle defending champion Talk `N Text in the 5 p.m. first game.
Salud said the fans will definitely get thrilled watching this new batch of rookies.
“They (fans) always want new faces, fresh talent that will continuously challenge the status quo as set by our veterans, and who will continuously elevate the level of play in basketball,” said the commissioner.