THE road to the PBA championship, at least the Philippine Cup, still goes through San Miguel Beer.
Team officials have installed the defending champion Beermen as well as Talk ‘N Text as the favorites to win the coveted all-Filipino crown when the league’s 41st season unfolds on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After all, the Beermen are coming off a fruitful 40th season where they captured two of the three titles and have even added depth to their already powerhouse lineup with the addition of veteran wingman Ryan Araña and promising guard Brian Heruela.
“San Miguel has three starting teams,” Blackwater governor Silliman Sy said on Tuesday in the press launch of the upcoming season.
SMB governor Robert Non, thrust into a neutral position as incoming league chairman, admitted his team, still led by June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, and Alex Cabagnot, is feeling the pressure of trying to sustain the winning tradition.
“I admit yung pressure nasa amin,” Non said. “Excited naman yung team.”
Talk ‘N Text, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup titlist, has also infused young blood with the acquisition of the top two picks in the last draft in Mo Tautuaa and Troy Rosario.
The Tropang Texters, represented by Smart sports official Epok Quimpo, are currently in Palawan for a week-long training camp and team-building session, scheduled to return on Friday.
Team officials have also listed Star and Barangay Ginebra, two squads in a new era, Alaska, and Rain or Shine as the tournament dark horses.
Rene Pardo of Star, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra, Ryan Gregorio of Meralco, GlobalPort’s Erick Arejola, Barako Bull’s Manny Alvarez, Mahindra’s Tomas Alvarez, Edison Oribiana of RoS, and Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX were the rest of the team officials who attended the press conference.