by Jonas Terrado
Ray Parks Jr.’s much-awaited debut with Blackwater will highlight the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup set May 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The spotlight is expected to be centered on Parks when he is expected to suit up for the Elite against the Meralco Bolts to usher in the start of the league’s midseason tournament.
Parks inked a two-conference contract with Blackwater after completing his duties with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League. The son of the late Bobby Parks was picked second in the PBA Rookie Draft.
Alaska squares off with the Columbian Dyip in the other game of the doubleheader.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, led once again by beloved import Justin Brownlee, begin its title defense on May 26 against Meralco also at the Big Dome.
Brownlee is back for a sixth conference with the Kings, though the 6-foot-5 American will bank on his versatility in the tournament which allows import with a maximum height of 6-foot-10.
Philippine Cup finalists Magnolia and San Miguel Beer won’t see action until June 5 when they face separate foes also at Araneta.
Magnolia meets Alaska and San Miguel collides with NorthPort.
The only two out-of-town games will be held during the eliminations as the PBA decided to have regular doubleheaders on Saturdays in order speed up the duration of the conference because of Gilas Pilipinas’ participation in the FIBA World Cup.
Magnolia and Meralco meet on June 29 in Zamboanga City while San Miguel plays Rain or Shine on July 13 in Cagayan de Oro City.
Losing Philippine Cup semifinalists Phoenix Pulse and Rain or Shine debut on May 31 with the Fuel Masters playing Parks and the Elite and the Elasto Painters tackling the Bolts at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ginebra and San Miguel meet in a rematch of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals on June 16 at the Big Dome.
San Miguel and Magnolia tangle for the first time since the Philippine Cup Finals on June 26 at Araneta before Magnolia and Ginebra renew their “Manila Clasico” rivalry on July 7 at the same venue.
The eliminations end on July 17 while the PBA expects to have the Finals conclude as late as Aug. 20 if the series pushes to a deciding seventh game.