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New PBA season begins with Ginebra-TNT match

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A showdown between Barangay Ginebra and TNT KaTropa will kick off the new season of the Philippine Basketball Association on Sunday night at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

In the release of the schedule of the season-opening Philippine Cup, which was bared through a press conference at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City on Tuesday, the showdown between the Barangay and the KaTropa will cap a grand opening night of the league’s 44th season which will be highlighted by the Leo Awards.

Action will then shift to the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Jan. 16 as Blackwater Elite and NorthPort, featuring first round picks Ray-Ray Parks, Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter, and Robert Bolick, collide at 4:30 p.m. and Phoenix Fuel Masters and Meralco Bolts, now bolstered by first rounders Jorey Napoles and Trevis Jackson respectively, lock horns at 7 p.m.

CJ Perez will then have a baptism of fire on Jan. 18 when Columbian makes its season debut right against the defending Philippine Cup champion, San Miguel, at the Cuneta Astrodome back in Pasay at 4:30 p.m., preceding the 7 p.m. nightcap between Rain or Shine ElastoPainters and NLEX Road Warriors, which is playing for the first time with Poy Erram.

The following night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, the Bolts and the Elite will return to action against each other at 4:30 p.m., while the KaTropa and the Fuel Masters collide at 6:45 p.m.

The Barangay and the Elasto Painters will clash in the first non-Mega Manila showdown of the season on Jan. 26 at the Calasiao Sports Complex in Pangasinan.

Alaska Aces and Magnolia, the two teams that clashed in the previous Governors’ Cup Finals, will only return to play on Feb. 3 back at the Ynares Center.

The Aces will tackle the Elasto Painters at 4:30 p.m., while the Hotshots take on the KaTropa at 6:45 p.m.

The Mall of Asia Arena also in Pasay will get its turn to host on Feb. 6 with the Columbian-Alaska and SMB-Blackwater twinbill.

The MOA Arena will also be the site of the March 1 game between NLEX and Blackwater, the first clash since the much-talked-about Erram trade, preceding the Ginebra-NorthPort showdown.

The Elite will first take on the Barangay in Digos on Feb. 9.

The league makes another Davao stop on March 16 in Panabo, when the Beermen take on the Fuel Masters.

NLEX and Ginebra will then collide on March 23 at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles.

A showdown between Meralco and Magnolia is set for March 2 in a venue which will be announced in a later date.

The league will take a long Valentine’s break to give way to the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. (PNA)