One cliché that never gets old is that you cannot keep a good something or someone down. It may be an individual, a group, an ideal, or a sports league. If it is good, it is going to go forth. And despite the long pause wrought by COVID-19 particularly in the “NCR Plus” bubble of months past, the Philippine Basketball Association finally got to kick off its 46th season into the latter half of 2021. It was a simple opening ceremony that greeted the players at noon this Friday, which is just as well. They have three games to play.
According to The Manila Bulletin, the 2021 PBA season 46 in the middle of the day this Friday, July 16, at the Ynares Sports Complex in Pasig. The opening ceremony, which started 11 AM, was expectedly sparse, no thanks to COVID restrictions. But a brief intro is just right to get the league up to speed in its regular season, by fitting three inaugural games one after the other beginning just after lunchtime. The Alaska Aces took on the Blackwater Bossing this 12:30 PM, the NLEX Road Warriors were matched against Rain or Shine beginning 3 PM, and the Meralco Bolts have repeat business with NorthPort later at 6 PM.
For the first game of Alaska vs. Blackwater, the former would make good mileage out of their free agent Yousef Taha, which would make up for ex-Aces guard Simon Enciso who would score long-range baskets for the Bossing to make the first half a formidable contest. Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso was especially proud of how his squad weathered the storm of their former teammate Enciso, who would score 23 points in his first outing for Blackwater. Once he tired out however, the Aces would strike back at second half.
With Taha doing 16 points and seven rebounds as part of a foundation, Alaska would surge ahead in Q3 when Mike DiGregorio contributed 20 points total, giving the Aces a lead that the Bossing could not quite recover from. Ultimately Alaska would humble Blackwater with a solid 103-77 finish, just the right tone to set for the inaugural game of PBA season 2021. And two more matches would follow afterward. Game 2 on opening day, NLEX vs. Rain or Shine, is especially noteworthy seeing as Kiefer Ravena is a Road Warrior this season, after plans to have him play in a Japanese league got canned.
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