Just weeks after concluding its 2022-23 season, the PBA is launching a new event called PBA On Tour, a series of games featuring all 12 teams playing in smaller venues mostly in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. But what is it exactly? From testing new rules, to filling a gap in the schedule, to trying out free agents here is everything you need to know about this summer series.
How long will the "tour" run and how often will games be played?
The tour kicked off on May 21 and will run until July 30. Each team will play the other 11 teams once. There will be no playoffs or championship series. Games will follow the usual PBA schedule of two games on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and one game on Saturday. The Wednesday-Friday-Sunday schedule will feature a double-header at 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. while the Saturday game kicks off at 5:00 p.m.
What are the motivations for doing this?
Aside from filling the gap between seasons -- which at six months will be the league's longest offseason in history -- there are two major objectives: First, it will allow teams to test free agents, 3x3 players and potential rookies, as well as give them more time to integrate new acquisitions into their scheme of things. Second, it will give the league a chance to test 11 proposed rule changes. The rundown of these 11 rule changes is pretty extensive and can be found here. But the most significant change is the introduction of the coach's challenge. Under this proposal, a head coach can challenge certain calls once each half as long as the team still has a full timeout. If the challenge is unused in the first half, it cannot be carried over to the second half. Other proposed changes include new rules on the take foul, excessive timeouts, goal tending, and game clock operation at the end of the first, second and third quarters.
Who's playing and not playing for the teams?
Several teams are testing out their 3x3 players and potential rookies. Among the 3x3 players are John Apacible, Leo De Vera Chester Saldua and Marvin Lee of San Miguel Beer; Tzaddy Rangel, Pedrito Galanza and Dominic Fajardo of NLEX Road Warriors; Jpseh Eriobu of Magnolia Hotshots; and Jebb Bulawan, Wendel Comboy and Jan Sobrevega of NorthPort Batang Pier.
Players fresh out of college are also seeing action, the most prominent of which is Fran Yu of the Letran Knights, who is playing for his college coach Bonnie Tan at NorthPort. His Letran teammate Tom Olivario is also listed on the Batang Pier roster. There's also Daniel Atienza, formerly of the NU Bulldogs Team B, getting run time under former NU coach Jamike Jarin with the Phoenix Fuel Masters, and San Beda Red Lions Peter Alfaro, Damie Cuntapay, JV Gallego and Clifford Jopia, who are part of the TNT Tropang Giga's roster.
Understandably, many regular starters haven't seen action yet, as coaches are opting to play second stringers and newcomers. SEA Games gold medalists CJ Perez of SMB and Chris Newsome of the Meralco Bolts were present but in street clothes during their respective teams' opening games, as were Javee Mocon of Phoenix and June Mar Fajardo of SMB.
Not all stars will be playing, however, as some are either recuperating from injuries or concentrating on Gilas duties. Some veterans missing from the lineups: Roi Sumang and Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort; Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Mikey Williams of TNT; Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel; and Vic Manuel and Chris Ross of SMB.
Where are they playing and are there tickets?
The venues in Metro Manila include Ynares Pasig, Ynares Antipolo, Caloocan Sports Complex, and the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan. The provincial stops are the Batangas Coliseum, Tiaong in Quezon, Baliuag in Bulacan, and Dumaguete. The good news for fans is that admission is free.
What's up next for the Philippines basketball scene during and after this?
Plenty of basketball. Gilas will practice in June as it prepares for a European training camp in July. PBA On Tour will end 26 days before the FIBA World Cup kicks off on August 25.
After the World Cup ends on Sept. 10 and before the Hangzhou Asian Games on Sept. 23, the league will hold its rookie combine and rookie draft.
The league's 48th season will open after the Asian Games, which end on Oct. 10. Only two conferences will be played, but it's not yet clear if the Governors' Cup or Commissioner's Cup will join the Philippine Cup. This and other issues will be decided by the PBA Board during their annual planning session at the end of May.