Willie Marcial's promotion as commissioner was just one of the stories that hit the opening conference of the PBA (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
The all-Filipino conference is said to be the crown jewel of the PBA and the 2018 edition is nothing short of a memorable one
If you were busy doing errands for the last 4 to 5 months, then you've missed a lot in the PBA.
To begin with, the 43rd season was almost put in jeopardy after the board was widely divided as to whether or not, then Commissioner Chito Narvasa should stay on office despite questions regarding some of his policies. But fortunately, Narvasa and the board came to their senses and made sure that the new season started on schedule. Like in the previous conferences, the 2018 edition of the Philippine Cup was filled with intense action both and off the court and below are just some of the major stories that rocked the opening conference of the 43rd PBA season:
The "Marcial" Law
The 2017-2018 PBA Philippine Cup started with the resignation of then-Commissioner Chito Narvasa, a move that was announced in a press conference hours prior to the opening game of the new season. But Narvasa was asked to stay on until the end of 2017 before Willie Marcial took over in a caretaker capacity. Marcial initially assisted the board in searching for the next commissioner but then, the board realized that it would be good for the PBA to promote Marcial as a full-time commissioner. And that move is paying off.
One of the changes that Willie Marcial implemented upon being appointed as a full-time commissioner is the reinstatement of the "No Harm No Foul" rule which allowed more physicality to come into play during games. Not only did the move bring back the excitement of the fans and players alike. It also sped up the games because there were fewer whistles that were blown. Of course, there were still lapses in the officiating but at the very least, the quality of officiating has improved.
Standhardinger-Ravena-Teng: Trio of Future Stars
Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena and, Jeron Teng headlined the PBA Draft as all three were drafted in the top by their respective teams. While Christian Standhardinger has yet to make his official PBA debut this coming May owing to his on-going commitment to his ABL team, he has a proven reputation of being a talented big man both while playing for Gilas Pilipinas and in the ABL so fans of the San Miguel Beermen can expect the same from Standhardinger once his starts wearing the Beermen uniform.
Kiefer Ravena's PBA arrival was delayed for two years but the Phenom did make sure that the delay was worth it as his first conference with the NLEX Road Warriors was nothing short of phenomenal. He was able to bring NLEX to their semifinal appearance in franchise history only to lose in 6 games against the much-experienced Magnolia Hotshots. We can expect more from Kiefer Ravena in the upcoming mid-season conference and beyond and make no mistake about it, Ravena is the frontrunner for this season's Rookie of the Year plum.
Coming off a championship season with the De La Salle Green Archers to cap his collegiate career, Jeron Teng made a lasting impression during his maiden conference with the Alaska Aces. He may not be as "phenomenal" as Kiefer Ravena but he remained as one of the Aces' main contributors, following Calvin Abueva's lead.
Another Philippine Cup. Another championship for San Miguel
There was little doubt from almost everyone that San Miguel would win its 4th consecutive championship in the all-Filipino conference. Dominance has become synonymous to the Beermen owing to the fact that they own the on-paper best all-Filipino starting 5 led by now 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo.
In the finals against Magnolia, San Miguel dropped the opener after the bench only scored a point but the Beermen came back by winning the next 4 games- capped by a come-from-behind Game 5 victory which needed 2 extra periods an 42-20 night from Fajardo who was named the Finals MVP.