Globalport and Barako Bull are two most improved teams entering the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, which opens shop on February 8 at the Big Dome.
Solomon Mercado’s entry to newcomer Globalport easily boosted the Mikee Romero-owned franchise’s fighting chance in the mid-season conference that allows each team to parade imports with no height limit.
Mercado, the 6’2″ guard out of Biola University, scored seven points and issued the same number of assists in Globalport’s 84-87 tune-up game loss to Air21 Friday afternoon at the Moro Lorenzo gym.
The Batang Pier’s new coach Junel Baculi said with Mercado teaming up with grizzled veterans Gary David and Willie Miller, along with athletic big man Japeth Aguilar, he is convinced that they have a brighter future in the PBA.
The bench atmosphere, Baculi said, was in fact, different compared to the past because everyone seemed happy and are now having fun.
But Baculi says chemistry is something they still have to work on as a team. New faces like Mercado, rookie big man Kelly Nabong, JP Belencion and Yousef Aljamal, along with Aguilar, need time to jell with the Globalport old timers.
Which is why this coming week, Baculi intends to spend more time running the team again with his system in time for the opening the second conference.
Barako Bull’s recent roster build up also installs the Energy Cola as a darkhorse in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Jonas Villanueva, a one-time PBA Finals MVP, while playing for San Miguel Beer (now Petron), along with high-flyers JC Intal and Allein Maliksi as well as Jojo Duncil easily add depth, youth and additional experience for Barako Bull, which prior to the trade, was considered as one of the oldest teams in the pro league.
Incoming coach Rajko Toroman likes what Villanueva brings to the team because of court vision, while he feels that Maliksi could finally blossom in his young PBA career with Barako Bull.
Toroman knows it will also take time for Intal to get immersed into his system since the former Ateneo swingman is still in the injured list. Duncil, on the other hand, brings an additional threat and depth on the guard department.
Globalport and Barako Bull may not yet be in the same mold as that of Talk ‘N Text or even defending Commissioner’s Cup champion San Mig Coffee, but here’s a guarantee from Baculi and Toroman, they can’t be taken for granted anymore.
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