(Sixth of a 10-part series serving as our primer for the 2014 PBA season)
San Mig Coffee
2012-2013 record: 38-26
Head coach: Timothy Cone
Rookie: Ian Sangalang, Isaac Holstein, JR Cawaling, Justin Melton
Offseason free-agent additions: none
Gone from last season: Jewel Ponferrada
Holdovers: Rafi Reavis, Peter June Simon, James Yap, Alex Mallari, Mark Barroca, Marc Pingris, Jerwin Gaco, Val Acuna, Yancy de Ocampo, Jerwin Gaco
Reserves: Lester Alvarez, Allein Maliksi
Strengths: For a team that is coming off its 10th franchise championship, San Mig Coffee didn't find the need to make over its lineup this season. But what it did was undergo a facelift, using its draft picks wisely to prepare for a transition from the James Yap era which may not be too long from now.
That the Mixers finished in the Top Four in all four conferences last season before ending its season with a bang by bagging the Governors Cup championship shows the team will remain a major force in the league, notwithstanding the decline in Yap's game and the advancing age of their core.
There's no reason to fear that guys like Yap, PJ Simon, Marc Pingris, and Rafi Reavis will suddenly turn into pushovers this season. But at the same time, astute moves both in the draft and the free-agent market last season give Tim Cone a pool of players like Ian Sangalang, Alex Mallari, Mark Barroca, Lester Alvarez, Allein Maliksi, Justin Melton and Isaac Holstein to develop for the future.
Weakness: The steady decline in the numbers of Yap the past three seasons (from 18.7 ppg. in 2011, to 16.7 ppg. in 2012 to 13.3 ppg. in 2013) means the Mixers need to find a new go-to-guy, yet there's no one in its team that fits the bill at the moment.
Last season, it was already Pingris that looked more the franchise player than Yap. But Pingris, too, has been overworked and feeling the strain of the constant pounding inside the lane. So the sooner San Mig can prepare for the transition, the better.
Season outlook: With the arrival of Sangalang and Co., San Mig managed to get better now while preparing for the future. In the 6-5 Sangalang, Cone also got a player considered as the most 'PBA-ready' among this year's batch of rookies. That alone will make the Mixers' main rotation a player deep going into the new season.
So expect the team to be in the title frame in each of the three conferences this season looking to add to Cone's growing trophy collection.
Power rating: 4