MERALCO looks to build on a franchise-best semifinal finish, while Globalport tries to get off to a fine start under returning coach Pido Jarencio as the Bolts and Batang Pier clash on Tuesday in the opener of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts, oozing confidence after making the round-of-four in Commissioner’s Cup, seem to have gotten an added boost in morale with highly-regarded American import Andre Emmett.
The club also tapped Iranian combo guard Benny Koochoie, although coach Norman Black admitted the team has yet to determine how he fits in the system.
“We just want to get off to a good start this conference. Our import Andre Emmett is a very good player, especially on the offensive end of the floor, while Benny Koochoie just arrived so we are still trying to find the best way to utilize him,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
The game starts at 7 p.m.
Emmett’s resume has a highlight that makes him stand out, at least on paper, among the 12 imports — he was NBA D-League All-Star MVP in February.
The 6-foot-4 Emmett averaged 22.6 points, while shooting 52 percent from the field during his 32-game stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this past season.
“He’s a veteran player, who won a lot of championships overseas. Hopefully, he can bring leadership aside from scoring,” added Black, whose team will miss guard Jared Dillinger and possibly big man Reynel Hugnatan due to injuries.
The Bolts will be up against a GlobalPort side that has recently welcomed back head coach Jarencio. Interim coach Eric Gonzales slid back to his original position as assistant coach.
Jarencio, the head coach designated as consultant after a woeful 2-16 win-loss record in two conferences has been reactivated to call the shots.
GlobalPort is parading a souped-up frontline featuring veterans Billy Mamaril and Doug Kramer, acquired three weeks ago from separate trade deals with Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.
American import Patrick O’Bryant and Asian reinforcement Omar Krayem will try to carry the three-year-old PBA franchise deep into the playoffs.
O’Bryant, a seven-footer, was selected ninth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2006 NBA Draft.
The 28-year-old O’Bryant, who also had stints with the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics, was named the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in the Puerto Rican basketball league.
The 5-foot-11 Krayem, on the other hand, is coming off an impressive performance with Umea in the Swedish basketball league, where he averaged 20.7 points, 7.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals for Umea in the 2014-15 season of the Swedish basketball league.