DEFENDING champion Alaska headlines the main game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup opening day when the Aces, behind comebacking import Robert Dozier, collide with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters on March 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Last season’s Best Import awardee, Dozier is back for a second tour of duty with the franchise and will readily test the mettle of Talk ‘N Text 6-foot-8 counterpart Richard Howell, who recently played for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Developmental League.
The two squads clash at 8 p.m., with the Aces immediately out to redeem themselves following a poor eighth place finish in the Philippine Cup.
Alaska actually posted the second best conference record of the franchise at 18-4 (win-loss) during its title drive in last season’s edition of the mid-season tournament, culminating in a three-game sweep of Barangay Ginebra in the Finals.
Meantime, playing in the curtain raiser during the opener are the Globalport Batang Pier, who parade new coach Pido Jarencio and recently acquired veteran playmaker Alex Cabagnot, when they face the Air21 Express.
The Batang Pier landed the left-handed Cabagnot for Solomon Mercado, who was shipped to San Miguel Beer (formerly Petron).
The Batang Pier will be reinforced by another old hand in Evan Brock, who played for Barako Bull last season.
Brock and the Batang Pier are expected to have their hands full against the Express, who will be bannered by journeyman Ivorian forward Herve Lamizana in the 5:45 p.m. match.