(Fifth of a 10-part series serving as our primer for the coming PBA season)
2012-2013 record: 29-23
Head coach: Gelacio 'Gee' Abanilla
Offseason additions: Chris Ross, Yousef Taha
Gone from last season: Dennis Miranda, Magi Sison, Mark Isip, Danny Ildefonso
Holdovers: Alex Cabagnot, Chris Lutz, Jason Deutchman, Paolo Hubalde, Marcio Lassiter, Douglas Kramer, June Mar Fajardo, Chico Lanete, Arwind Santos, Ronald Tubid
Strengths: Except for a little house cleaning, Petron made very little movement in the offseason. And why wouldn't it? The Blaze Boosters already own hands-down the most complete lineup in the league - one teeming with talent in every position and versatile players like Arwind Santos and Chris Lutz who can play multiple positions.
Even with just 12 players in its roster heading to the new season, Petron is already complete. The team has completed the transition from the Danny Ildefonso-Olsen Racela-Danny Seigle glory days to a team now relying on a whole new set of young, dynamic, and talented players.
With the way the lineup looks, Petron, it seemed, has even leapfrogged the Arwind Santos era and headed straight to a new generation of players led by Marcio Lassiter, Lutz, and sophomore June Mar Fajardo. It's now their time to shine.
Even Chris Ross suddenly looked like a nice pick-up, since he is expected to shine in a team that doesn't need him to score. Unlike at Meralco where his limited offensive moves made him a liability in the point guard position, Ross should have a field day setting up Petron's armada of scorers.
Weakness: If there is one small hole in Petron's lineup, it should be the power-forward position. But the Boosters may not need a dominant guy in the four spot if Fajardo continues to dominate inside the paint like he did in the last Governors Cup Finals against San Mig where he averaged 18.7 points and 14.7 rebounds.
Aside from that, Santos, at this stage in his career, should be better off in the four position than popping jumpers from the perimeter.
Season outlook: Petron doesn't need more good players; what this team needs is stability after a tumultuous stretch where it transitioned from Rajko Toroman to Olsen Racela to Gee Abanilla.
Abanilla, a soft-spoken former La Salle guard who never fails to preach the team concept, seemed like the kind of coach that can lend stability to this team. But he still needs to show that he can keep this team together when the chips are down.
With less Petronovela and more Fajardo, expect Petron to finally end a long championship drought before the season is over.