MANILA – Converge will quickly get a baptism of fire as the team's much-anticipated Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) debut will happen right at the start of the league's 47th season on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
In a copy of the Philippine Cup elimination round schedule obtained by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday, the FiberXers will be involved in the season opener as they will face the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters at 4:30 p.m., right after the 2 p.m. opening ceremonies highlighted by the Leo Awards for Season 46.
While being a newcomer, Converge will be parading a lot of familiar faces as they retained the core of the Alaska Aces following the latter's franchise sale during the offseason.
However, the club infused a good dose of youth recently to its roster by drafting big men Jeo Ambohot and Justin Arana and trading for high-flyers Tyrus Hill and Kurt Lojera.
Hill was not activated for the FiberXers' opening day roster according to a copy of the lineups, although David Murrell, the other player they got from the NLEX Road Warriors in a recent trade, will be active against the Elasto Painters.
In a rare moment, the opening day festivities will be capped with a doubleheader as Magnolia and TNT collide in the nightcap at 6:30 p.m., an early rematch of last year's Philippine Cup Finals.
Commissioner Willie Marcial thanked the PBA's official television partner TV5 for helping make the uncommon opening day twinbill a reality.
"Malaking tulong ang TV5. Ang binigay sa ating time, 2 o'clock. Gagamitin na hanggang matapos. Kaya doon tayo nagkaroon ng (TV5 was a big help. The time they gave to us was 2 o'clock until the end. That's why we have a) doubleheader," Marcial said during the Season 47 press launch at the Conrad Manila Ballroom in Pasay.
The games in the PBA Philippine Cup will be played five times a week from Wednesday to Sunday.
On June 8, Terrafirma begins life with former B.League standout Javi Gomez De Liaño as it takes on an NLEX team still with uncertainty on whether it can field in Kiefer Ravena or not at 3 p.m.
Ravena has not been placed in the Road Warriors' opening day roster as they await the PBA board of governors' final decision if he will be allowed to just play in the Philippine Cup before quickly flying back to Japan to join the Shiga Lakestars for the upcoming B.League season.
In their earlier agreement, Ravena has to honor his current NLEX contract and play with the team for the entirety of PBA Season 47 after his first season with Shiga is done.
However, with the B.League season starting just as the Philippine Cup comes to an end, the idea of Ravena only playing for one conference this season has floated.
Marcial said Ravena and NLEX must make a final agreement within the week, and he will elevate the matter quickly to the PBA board for approval.
Phoenix and San Miguel will clash in the Wednesday nightcap at 6 p.m.
Games will shift to the Ynares Center in Antipolo beginning with a June 9 twinbill featuring a showdown between the Tropang Giga and the Blackwater Bossing and a game pitting the Elasto Painters and the NorthPort Batang Pier, featuring Most Valuable Player frontrunner Robert Bolick.
Meralco will make its season debut on June 11 against Phoenix at 7:15 p.m. also at the Ynares Center right after the 5:15 p.m. game between NorthPort and Terrafirma.
Ginebra's own season debut will be the main highlight of the PBA's Independence Day offering also at the Ynares Center, taking on Blackwater at 6:30 p.m. on June 12.
The Gin Kings will make a quick return on June 15 as action shifts to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, battling the Elasto Painters at 6 p.m. following the 3 p.m. game between the Hotshots and the Batang Pier.
The first edition of the "Manila Clasico", that is, the Magnolia-Ginebra game, will take place on June 19 also at the MOA Arena. (PNA)