Santos, NorthPort take on Alaska; New-look SMB faces NLEX

Published December 8, 2021, 8:03 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Arwind Santos (PBA Images)

Arwind Santos and San Miguel Beer hope to start their separate campaigns on a bright note as PBA Governors’ Cup will finally get going today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Santos will make his NorthPort Batang Pier debut against the Alaska Aces in the 3 p.m. opener before the Beermen parade their retooled lineup opposite the NLEX Road Warriors at 6 p.m.

Both matches also usher in the return of imports for the first time since the pandemic, with NorthPort parading Jordan naturalized player Cameron Forte and Alaska bringing back ex-NLEX reinforcement Olu Ashaolu.

NLEX will have former TNT import KJ McDaniels while SMB has Brandon Brown, who once suited up for Phoenix in 2017.

The Beermen and Santos parted ways several weeks ago when the veteran forward known as “The Spiderman” was shipped to the Batang Pier in exchange for Vic Manuel.

Santos will try to provide the veteran presence for a talented team led by Robert Bolick, who is coming a sensational Philippine Cup for NorthPort, Greg Slaughter and athletic rookie Jamie Malonzo.

SMB not only dealt Santos but also Alex Cabagnot, leaving June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter as the only members of the fabled “Death Five.”

But the Beermen got younger by getting Manuel and Simon Enciso, capable to make outside shots when consistent, to mesh with the old cogs and other talented players like CJ Perez, Terrence Romeo and Mo Tautuaa.

Out to spoil SMB’s quest to open its title bid with a win is NLEX, which will try to build on some of the positives from the previous conference.

The Road Warriors were eliminated in the quarters, but rookie Calvin Oftana showed glimpses of becoming a big part of the rotation while the presence of McDaniels gives coach Yeng Guiao confidence to contend.

The Aces are coming off a 3-8 record in the Philippine Cup and sent Jvee Casio and Barkley Ebona to the Blackwater Bossing for Mike Tolomia.