by Jonas Terrado
Newly-acquired San Miguel Beer (SMB) guard Terrence Romeo earns an early confrontation with TNT KaTropa on Jan. 26 in one of the featured games of the PBA Philippine Cup which starts Sunday.
The SMB-TNT clash will be held on Jan. 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Romeo facing his former team for the first time since his acrimonious exit last month when he was traded in exchange for David Semerad, Brian Heruela and a future draft pick.
Rumors of a rift with a pair of TNT teammates were cited as the reason for his move to San Miguel, although Romeo said he would rather focus on meshing well with his new teammates than dwelling on the past.
The PBA ushers in its 44th season at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan with crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT facing off after the Leo Awards and the opening ceremony.
TNT begins its life minus Romeo while also hoping to see the rest of the squad play with better cohesion.
Romeo, meanwhile, makes his debut for the four-time Philippine Cup champion Beermen on Jan. 18 at the Big Dome against the Columbian Dyip, who will see top overall pick CJ Perez play his first pro game under a weight of expectations.
Three more first round picks make their own debuts on Jan. 16 as Robert Bolick and NorthPort meet Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter and Blackwater at Araneta.
The Big Dome is also slated to host three marquee games featuring teams from San Miguel Corporation. SMB and Ginebra lock horns on Jan. 20, San Miguel plays Governors’ Cup champion Magnolia on Feb. 10 and the Manila Clasico showdown between Ginebra and Magnolia on March 17.
Magnolia and losing Governors’ Cup finalist Alaska open their season campaigns on Feb. 3 with the latter playing Rain or Shine and the former battling TNT KaTropa at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Ynares is also the venue of the first meeting between Magnolia and Alaska since the Governors’ Cup Finals. The game is slated March 9 at the same venue where the Hotshots clinched the crown before Christmas.
NLEX opens the conference on Jan. 18 against coach Yeng Guiao’s former team Rain or Shine, with Kevin Alas expected to make his comeback from an ACL injury and Poy Erram donning the Road Warriors jersey for the first time since being traded from Blackwater.
Erram faces Blackwater for the first time on March 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Four provincial games are slated during the conference, with Calasiao, Pangasinan getting a dress rehearsal before hosting the All-Star Week in March with Ginebra and Rain or Shine match on Jan. 26.
Ginebra and Blackwater collide on Feb. 9 in Digos City before the league returns to Davao for March 16 encounter of San Miguel and Phoenix in Panabo City.
The final out-of-town pits Ginebra and NLEX on March 23 at the Angeles University Foundation campus in Angeles City, Pampanga.