TWO teams in the lower echelon will both try to make a breakthrough as they look forward to a better showing in the 41st Philippine Basketball Association, which unfolds on Oct. 18.
NLEX and Barako Bull had at least one good stretch last season, but still were unable to do enough to contend against the league’s big boys. They both want to put themselves in a position wherein they can be more of a threat to the perennial contenders this coming season.
With a year of experience in the league under its belt, the NLEX Road Warriors are eyeing a better season and for head coach Boyet Fernandez, it’s about consistently getting in the playoffs and being a dangerous team in there.
“We’ve learned a lot in our first season and now, we want to be better overall and make the playoffs and do our best from there,’’ said Fernandez, who attended several coaching seminars in the United States early in the off-season.
Fernandez cited the team’s upgrade of roster as one of the big positives for them going into the season.
The Road Warriors are obviously more formidable after acquiring veteran workhorse Sean Anthony, sophomore playmaker Kevin Alas, prized rookie gunner Garvo Lanete and enforcer rookie Glenn Khobuntin. They will join forces with reliable veterans Asi Taulava, Mark Cardona, Jonas Villanueva, Enrico Villanueva and Mark Borboran.
“I feel like we got some really good players that can make a huge impact for us like Sean Anthony, Kevin Alas and Garvo Lanete. With those guys and our dependable veterans, I feel that we’re a better team and win can do better that last season,’’ he said.
Like NLEX, Barako Bull wants to see some progress this season as well.
Last season, the Energy went into a winning streak early in the last two conferences only to falter down the stretch on both occasions.
Coming into this season, Barako Bull will present a revamped roster with nine new faces on the squad.
The Energy have veterans Mick Pennisi, Mac Baracael, Josh Urbiztondo, Jondan Salvador, Emman Monfort along with Jeric Fortuna, Prince Caperal Jens Knuttel and rookie Michael Miranda.
Gone are the likes of Joseph Yeo, Carlo Lastimosa and Dylan Ababou, who are all regulars in coach Koy Banal’s system last season.
Barako Bull is hoping that their new acquisitions along with old reliables JC Intal, RR Garcia, Chico Lanete, Willie Wilson and Rico Maierhoffer can elevate the team to contender status.
These two squads actually tested each other in a tune-up game last Saturday, when the Road Warriors routed the Energy, 110-97, to show a glimpse of what they can bring to the table this season.