The 2019 season of the Philippine Basketball Association unravels on January 13 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. With the influx of fresh talent and eyebrow-raising offseason moves, basketball fans are excited for another year of PBA action.
Here are the 10 most compelling games in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
NEW BEGINNING: Ginebra vs. TNT - Jan. 13, Phil Arena
The PBA begins with a bang, featuring Barangay Ginebra and their quest to add their first Philippine Cup title in the Tim Cone era versus a revamped and rejuvenated TNT squad. Will Ginebra's towers dominate, or can The Blur and his new running mate Brian Heruela spoil the big party in the Philippine Arena?
THE BABY BEAST ARRIVES: Columbian vs San Miguel - Jan. 18, Cuneta Astrodome
We get our first look at the number one pick CJ Perez as he makes his PBA Debut with the Dyip. Their first opponent? None other than the four time defending champions, the San Miguel Beermen. It makes sense to test yourself against the best in the business immediately. Let's see how Perez, Jerramy King and Rashawn McCarthy do against the titans of the Philippine Cup.
RETURN OF ROCK N' ROLL AND NLEX'S ACE: Rain or Shine vs NLEX - Jan. 18, Cuneta Astrodome
By all accounts, Raymond Almazan is back in the Rain or Shine camp and playing nicely with everyone. His presence was sorely missed by the Elasto Painters, after they flamed out early in the Governors' Cup. The Elasto Painters will need him to be dominant again with the NLEX Road Warriors and new acquisition JP Erram also making their debut. Kevin Alas is also set to return.
RIVALRY RENEWED: NorthPort vs Columbian - Jan. 25, Ynares Center
For the past two seasons in the NCAA, the LPU Pirates and San Beda Red Lions have done battle in the Finals. Leading the charge for the Pirates was the ball of energy CJ Perez, while Robert Bolick was the main man in the backcourt for the Red Lions. How fitting that both graduated in the same year and are batchmates in the PBA. One of the most fun individual matchups in college should be just as thrilling to watch, now that they've got firepower on both sides.
ROMEO'S REVENGE? TNT vs San Miguel, Jan. 27, Smart Araneta
Terrence Romeo takes on TNT in what should be a highly emotional affair. We now get a chance to see if the KaTropa's gamble of trading away one of the best scorers the PBA has ever seen will pay off. Will San Miguel keep feeding Romeo to show the KaTropa just what they're missing?
TRADE PARTNERS OR RIVALS?: Meralco vs TNT - Jan 30, Cuneta Astrodome
Trade rumors have been swirling since the conclusion of the Draft involving these two squads. Word is Baser Amer could be making his way to the TNT side, while Ray Parks, the number two overall pick, could find his way in a Meralco Bolts uniform. Whatever the case may be, whether or not blockbuster trades occur, it's always a treat to watch these two backcourts go head to head.
FINALS REMATCH: Magnolia vs San Miguel - Feb 10, Smart-Araneta Coliseum
Fresh from a Governors' Cup title, the Magnolia Hotshots should be oozing with confidence and swagger heading into this match against the champs. The Hotshots came up way short in last year's edition, but who's to say that their relentless defense led by Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon in the backcourt with Rafi Reavis in the middle can't do damage against San Miguel. Both squads should be determined to make this a statement game.
BEAST'S OLD STOMPING GROUNDS: Alaska vs Phoenix - Feb. 13, Smart Araneta Coliseum
Calvin Abueva has blended really well with his new team, as they went all the way to the Governors' Cup playoffs before suffering a quarterfinals exit. Alaska got the best of the Fuel Masters in their eliminations match, but the Philippine Cup is a completely different animal. There's no Eugene Phelps or Mike Harris to man the middle. For the first time, we'll see if Alaska can tame The Beast on their own.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Blackwater vs NLEX - Feb. 13, Smart Araneta Coliseum
Last season, the Blackwater Elite handed JP Erram a fresh new contract, signifying that he was a part of their long term plan. A few months later, he was shipped to the NLEX Road Warriors. What happened in between is anyone's guess, but that just makes Erram's first game against Blackwater even more compelling.
MANILA CLASICO: Magnolia vs Ginebra - Mar. 17, Smart Araneta Coliseum
It's always a party when these two teams go head to head, but it has taken on a different narrative now that the Hotshots snapped their losing streak to Barangay Ginebra on their way to the Governors' Cup championship. Both teams have championship aspirations this conference. If the key players on both squads can stay healthy, this should be a war.