SAN Mig Coffee begins its PBA Commissioner’s Cup title defense when it clashes with an improved Barako Bull five on Friday at the start of the import-laden, mid-season conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers gave up Jonas Villanueva and JC Intal to the Energy Cola two weeks ago in a blockbuster five-team, 10-player trade. But in return, coach Tim Cone’s charges got 6-foot-4 rookie guard Alex Mallari, bruiser Leo Najorda, Lester Alvarez plus a future draft pick to boost its already formidable line-up.
On the other hand, aside from Villanueva and Intal, the Energy Cola also got high-flying Allein Maliksi and Jojo Duncil, injecting the much-needed young blood to their aging roster.
Cone said his team, which will parade former Texas Legends forward Matt Rogers as import, has been wrestling with the recent roster transition as he patiently teaches the newcomers the rudiments of the triangle offense.
“We haven’t really had a chance to work on defense yet. Our team still has a lot of work to be done, though we’re getting a little better,” said Cone, whose team tangles with Barako Bull in the 7:30 p.m. game.
Barako Bull also underwent major changes. Before the trade, former Petron team consultant Rajko Toroman was tapped to run Barako Bull as the George Chua-Bert-Lina owned franchise hopes to have a better showing in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Toroman, who will be assuming the active team consultant role for Barako Bull, has instilled his European-coaching style to the Energy Cola, which requires a lot of ball movement and perimeter shooting.
Barako Bull Import Evan Brock said everyone in the team has been picking up the system well and is confident they could play well against the Mixers.
“It’s a new system and we have a new coach. But he’s (Toroman) been taking time with us. Making sure we understand and learn the system the way we are supposed to learn it. I think we’re doing good,” Brock told Spin.ph, who averaged 17 points in the team’s five tune up games.