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Star, Meralco eye payback at start of Commissioner's Cup

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Star and Meralco, two teams that struggled during the PBA Philippine Cup, aim to bounce back in the mid-season Commissioner's Cup as they begin their campaign against each other.

The Bolts, the first team that got eliminated in the Philippine Cup, and the Hotshots, who also had a hard time in the said conference, will meet in the main game of the first doubleheader of the new conference.

In the partial release of the Commissioner's Cup schedule on Friday night, Star and Meralco will collide in the 7 p.m. game of the Feb. 10 fight card at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots will once again parade longtime import Denzel Bowles, while the Bolts will bring in NBA veteran Malcolm Thomas.

In the curtain raiser at 4:15 p.m., Blackwater looks to build momentum from its first PBA playoff appearance as it battles defending champion Talk 'n Text.

The Tropang Texters will welcome back Ivan Johnson, while the Elite will introduce M.J. Rhett.

Mahindra, the other team that went for an early Philippine Cup exit, will debut on Feb. 12 against GlobalPort at 4:15 p.m. also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Enforcers, who will likely miss Playing Coach Manny Pacquiao for most of the upcoming conference because of his potential boxing retirement fight against Tim Bradley, tapped the services of Augustus Gilchrist, while the Batang Pier, who made their first semifinal stint this conference, have not yet named their import.

Ginebra, featuring Othyus Jeffers, and NLEX, with returning import Al Thornton, will clash in the other game at 7 p.m.

Action will shift to the PhilSports Arena on Feb. 13 with Rain Or Shine, the other losing semifinalist of the Philippine Cup, debuting against Star at 5:15 p.m.

Wayne Chism will return to work for the Elasto Painters, who lost in seven games to the Tropang Texters, who will face the Bolts at 3 p.m. of the same date, in last year's finals.

The Ginebra-GlobalPort game will highlight the PBA's Valentine's Day treat. The game is set for a 5:15 p.m. tip-off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, right after the Mahindra-Blackwater game.

Phoenix, formerly Barako Bull, will make its PBA debut on Feb. 17 against NLEX also at "The Big Dome", preceding the Meralco-ROS clash.

Alaska and San Miguel, which are currently battling in the Philippine Cup Finals, will return to action on Feb. 19 and 20, respectively.

The Aces will tackle the Elite, while the Beermen will lock horns with the Enforcers.

The nightcaps of the said playdates will have TNT versus GlobalPort and NLEX against Star respectively.

The complete schedule will be released at a later date.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno