Last June 5 marked the return of the PBA and while all eyes were fixed between the Magnolia Hotshots and TNT Tropang GIGA, the future is now with Converge finalizing their claim to protect the awesomeness of their predecessor, the Alaska Aces.
They lost, by the way.
But they lost memorably, with a Beau Belga triple messing with their debut. This equally sucks because four of the seven debut games came from the FiberXers.
For some insane reason, I think this Converge team resembles the debuting ’88 Purefoods squad. Kurt Lojera failed to impress in his debut but the other three rookies combined for 30 rebounds. Justin Arana made it known why he is a two-time NCAA Defensive Player of the Year by swatting three shots and Jeo Ambohot was three points shy of a double-double. Tyrus Hill is the surprise package – because why would Jeffrey Cariaso unleash hell with three big men. But yeah, The Jet did just that and if you combo Arana, Ambohot, and Hill with the other NCAA star big man in Ben Adamos, Converge is low-key going to be a problem for their enemies in the future. I guess the biggest problem with the FiberXers is their offense and if they can’t get a proper deal with Abu Tratter, Robbie Herndon, and Maverick Ahanmisi (although at least he has become visible with the team), then they could shop them around for a veteran playmaker or a key scorer that can also help with the developments of their 2022 rookies.
6 POINTS | 50% FG | 9 REBOUNDS | 1 ASSIST | 1 STEAL | 3 BLOCKS | 27 MINUTES
7 POINTS | 42% FG | 10 REBOUNDS | 1 BLOCK | 28 MINUTES
5 POINTS | 11 REBOUNDS | 1 ASSIST | 1 STEAL | 1 BLOCK | 19 MINUTES
2 POINTS | 5 MINUTES
RAIN OR SHINE
Despite missing the services of Javee Mocon due to contract negotiations (now with the Phoenix Fuel Masters), the Elastopainters were still able to cough up the win. First rounders and Gilas cadets Gian Mamuyac and Shaun Ildefonso were barely factors in the game with the team relying on their sophomore holdovers Santi Santillan, Andrei Caracut, Anton Asistio, and Mike Nieto. It’s hard to break Rain or Shine as a supporting character because they are loaded with options. The only way for Mamuyac and Ildefonso to break the system is by delivering stellar performances.
0 POINTS | 2 REBOUNDS | 3 MINUTES
0 POINTS | 1 REBOUND | 5 MINUTES
Again, this is the problem I have with the Gilas cadets. Jaydee Tungcab’s stock wasn’t high, to begin with. Now he has to contend with the team’s multitude of options. And his development depends on whether or not Mikey Williams is going to sign a new deal – which in some ways sucks because why on earth would a team select a player in the draft already in his prime that would only stay in their team for a measly year? The former UP Fighting Maroon did well in his cameo, finishing a rebound and a steal in two minutes.
0 POINTS | 1 REBOUND | 1 STEAL | 2 MINUTES
Six players from the 2022 PBA Draft class with one debuting after a Gilas Pilipinas stint. Amongst these teams (Magnolia also played but they didn’t field a debuting player), Converge will probably have the Rookie of the Year winner – but I also think their chances are iffy. If both Arana and Ambohot would do well and there’s another rookie that would do extremely well from the other teams (JM Calma, Javi Gomez de Liano, and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser are outside bets), then the player from the other could be the Top Rookie.
By the way, I wonder how Jeo Ambohot feels after losing his first televised game (disregarding the MPBL and the other semi-pro leagues) in almost three years and being the guy defending against Beau Belga in that clutch bomb?
But this is not a bad thing - because just like my '88 Purefoods comparison, Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera did not win the Rookie of the Year award but their tandem is perceived as one of the best in league history. They also had a lot of losing spells before figuring out their pro ball gameplay. Arana and Ambohot could go as big as the Alvin-Jerry and even the Jun Limpot and Dennis Espino combo or as bad as Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao duo during their time in Air21.