A REJIGGED Meralco tries to give San Miguel Beer a worthy challenge as the Bolts and Beermen square off on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts parade their bevy of acquisitions as they make their Season 41 debut against the defending champion Beermen at 7 p.m.
The addition of Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Jimmy Alapag, Chris Newsome, Ronjay Buenafe, and Bryan Faundo has star guard Gary David excited.
“Halos kumpleto kami every spot ngayon, walang masyadong butas,” the Gilas Pilipinas standout beamed. “May mga beterano at mga bata. At yung sistema ni coach, nandun pa rin: naka-focus pa rin kami sa defense.”
David still banners the MVP team along with forwards Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan.
“We brought in six new players this year, so it’s a process of trying to teach them the system and trying to execute the system as best as we can,” Bolts coach Norman Black said.
The American mentor included Baser Amer, who has yet to join the lineup as the rookie playmaker is still tied with a San Beda side that’s seeking a record sixth straight NCAA crown, battling rival Letran in the finals.
The Bolts, though, immediately face a tough test in the Beermen, who began their title-retention bid in style by overwhelming GlobalPort, 97-86, in Davao last Saturday.
June Mar Fajardo, who hardly showed signs of being bothered by a recurring plantar fasciitis injury after tallying 21 points, 17 boards, and three blocks against the Batang Pier, anchors the Beermen in their bid to notch a second straight victory that will gain them a share of the early lead with Rain or Shine.
NLEX, which nipped Blackwater, 90-86, last Friday, likewise seeks to gain a piece of the top spot as it takes on Barako Bull in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m.