(Last of a 10-part series serving as our primer for the 2014 PBA season)
2012-2013 record: 14-25
Head coach: Franz Pumaren
Rookie: Eric Camson
Offseason free-agent additions: Elmer Espiritu, Mark Cardona
Gone from last season: Nelbert Omolon, Eric Salamat, Rob Reyes
Holdovers: Vic Manuel, Joseph Yeo, Asi Taulava, KG Canaleta, Simon Atkins, Bonbon Custodio, Ren-ren Ritualo, Carlo Sharma, Wynne Arboleda, Ogie Menor, Michael Burtscher
Reserve: Mark Borboran
Strengths: Several top-notch players have come and gone at Air21, but this season marks the first time in a long while that the Express have put together a team capable of stealing the thunder from the league's big guns.
New acquisition Mark Cardona marks the final piece in the puzzle for Franz Pumaren, who has patiently assembled a roster made up mostly of his former players at De La Salle that has enough firepower to make a serious run in the playoffs.
Offense should no longer be a problem for the Express with proven scorers like Joseph Yeo, KG Canaleta, and Cardona while the ageless Asi Taulava should make the team respectable inside the paint despite the emergence of top big men like June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter.
With most of the new players having played before under Pumaren's system, chemistry shouldn't be much of a problem for a team that has had problems putting its act together in the past.
Weakness: While scoring won’t be an issue anymore for the franchise, the Express will have to find a way to stop teams if they hope to win consistently. That should be a problem for the team, especially if its last line of defense - Taulava - gets into foul trouble since Air21's frontline isn't particularly deep.
The Express' point guard spot is also suspect after they gave up Mike Cortez in the Taulava deal with Meralco. That leaves the playmaking duties in the untested hands of Simon Atkins and Bonbon Custodio - who is not even a natural point guard - as well as 37-year-old Wynne Arboleda.
Season outlook: The Express, no doubt, have become stronger with the presence of Taulava, Cardona, and Yeo, who could easily help Canaleta on the offensive end. But again, it takes more than just offense to win games in the PBA, let alone a championship.
But look for Air21 to give every team it faces a run for its money this season - and perhaps pull off a couple of surprises for Pumaren.
Power rating: 3.0