ANGELES CITY – Independent teams see better chances of winning championships in import-laced conferences against so-called corporate bloc teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
“The import conferences of the PBA have been designed by our forefathers to give weaker teams a chance to perform better,” said former PBA Commissioner Chito Salud.
“This calls not just on our import to show his wares and carry the team but poses a big challenge likewise to our coaching staff and players,” Salud, now serving as Team Governor, said in a media conference of Converge FiberXers.
The FiberXers is one of six independent teams that compete against corporate bloc teams from San Miguel Corporation and the Metro Pacific group. Under SMC are the San Miguel Beermen, Magnolia Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. Metro Pacific has NLEX Road Warriors, Meralco Bolts and TNT Tropang Giga.
Other independent teams include Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, Blackwater Bossing, NorthPort Batang Pier, and Phoenix LPG Fuel Masters.
The last time an independent team emerged as champion was in the 2016 Commissioners Cup where Rain or Shine Elasto painters bagged the crown, with Yeng Guiao as head coach.
“To see to it as they (players) become one as a team and enmeshed with our import. Anytime there is an import who can help the team, that is a welcome addition to the independent teams of the PBA,” Salud added.
For the PBA Commissioners Cup that opens on September 21, the FiberXers had brought in 6’9” Quincy Miller who played for the Denver Nuggets, the Sacramento Kings and the Detroit Pistons before playing in the EuroLeague. He is described as a shooter and a versatile player.
The team owned by Pampanga billionaire Dennis Uy has embarked on “bench upgrade” since making an impressive debut with its playoff finish in the Philippine Cup. It has hired a new head coach in Aldin Ayo who replaced Jeff Cariaso. It has also acquired through trade shooting guard Aljun Melecio and forward Kris Porter from Phoenix Fuel Masters while sending them rookie guard Kurt Lojera and big man Ben Adamos.
Melecio, together with team captain Jeron Teng, played for Ayo during their stints for La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP.
Salud reiterated his commitment for the FiberXers to bring an “exciting brand” of basketball.
“We hope to do better this conference. When boss Dennis (Uy) acquired Alaska, we wanted to bring an exciting brand of basketball. A brand of basketball that will attract fans not just of the PBA but to become fans of Converge. That is what we are looking at this conference. We want to perform better. We want to be competitive and we want an exciting brand of basketball for our fans,” he enthused.
FiberXers, in its debut after acquiring the Alaska franchise in May this year, has finished on a high note than expected. They made it to the playoffs before bowing out against powerhouse TNT Tropang Giga in the quarterfinals.