Maverick Ahanmisi made it simple when explaining his decision to join a loaded Barangay Ginebra squad that became deeper with the addition of last season’s most improved player.
“Who wouldn’t want to play for a team that already has their work cut out for them?” Ahanmisi said as he started his career with the league’s most popular team, interestingly on Friday against his former team Converge in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.
How Ahanmisi will become a key cog for coach Tim Cone will be on display during the match played at 8 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Cone, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar resume their club duties following Gilas Pilipinas’ historic run to gold at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Asia, as does national team assistant LA Tenorio, who is expected to return to this conference – if not in it – after competing been dealing with colon cancer for the last few months.
Life without Brownlee
The obvious difference is the absence of Justin Brownlee, who is still awaiting word on his punishment following Ginebra’s long-term strengthening, and naturalized player Gilas, who failed a doping test at Asiad.
His interim replacement, former Meralco import Tony Bishop, will have a huge hole to fill, although Cone expressed confidence in his ability to be that guy for the Gin Kings.
Ahanmisi signed an unrestricted free agent contract with Ginebra after the best season of his PBA career with Converge.
His ability to shoot and play defense could serve as another option, with Thompson being known for his all-around game, Stanley Pringle being an outstanding slasher, and Nards Pinto being a stingy defender.
“I’m really just here to help an already good team. Anything I can do – rebounding, assists, leadership, every aspect of the game,” said the 32-year-old, who also played for Rain or Shine and Alaska in a career that began in 2015.
Converge is hungry for its first win after losing its first two assignments to Blackwater and TNT, the latter of which ended in a nasty overtime defeat last Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Ginebra’s season opener will also serve as a prelude to Sunday’s big showdown with rival Magnolia, which will face NorthPort at 4 p.m. in a battle of teams that have won their first two games.
Magnolia defeated TNT and Phoenix to clear the way to its first title since the 2018 Governors’ Cup with import Tyler Bey at the helm. INQ