San Miguel, Magnolia jumpstart respective Govs’ Cup campaigns

Last conference semifinalists San Miguel Beer and Magnolia Timplados make their 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup debut against separate foes at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Sunday, Jan. 29.

CJ Perez and San Miguel Beer make their debut for the 2022 PBA Governors' Cup (PBA Images)

The Hotshots take the spotlight first against the streaking Converge FiberXers in the first game at 4:30 p.m. while the Beermen look to usher the new era under new coach Jorge Gallent with a victory against the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the second game at 6:45 p.m.

Just like in the Commissioner’s Cup where Magnolia paraded an import rich with experience in the European style of play in Serbian import Nick Rakocevic, the Hotshots will be bannered by journeyman Erik McCree.

The 29-year-old reinforcement spent most of the six years of his professional career playing in Europe and is looking to help Magnolia get over the hump in the season-ending conference after falling short in the semifinals last season against the eventual runners-up Meralco Bolts.

Local stars in Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca and Ian Sangalang are expected to provide the support to McCree especially on the defensive end as they take on the searing offense of the FiberXers which leaned on the explosive debut of import Jamaal Franklin.

The former NBA player immediately displayed his pedigree in his first game scattering 42 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Meanwhile in the second game, the Beermen are hoping for a winning start to Gallent’s PBA coaching career after taking over from former head coach Leo Austria who according to team manager Gee Abanilla decided to take a coaching sabbatical although will still be the team consultant.

Gallent is looking at former NLEX import Cameron Clark to boost the SMB’s bid for another title, joining an already star-studded lineup centered on MVP frontrunner June Mar Fajardo along with high scoring guards Terrence Romeo and CJ Perez.

Looking to spoil their plans however are the Fuel Masters who are likewise hoping to give new coach Jamike Jarin his first win in the PBA. Phoenix showed flashes of brilliance in its first two games but just couldn’t find the extra push in the end game to pull off its breakthrough win in the conference.

Import Du’Vaughn Maxwell did everything he could in its loss 108-105 loss to Blackwater, finishing with 37 points and 17 rebounds but will need more from his supporting cast of Encho Serrano, Tyler Tio, Jason Perkins and RJ Jazul especially with Javee Mocon still sidelined by injury and going up against a stacked SMB crew.