MERALCO and Phoenix completed a swap of guards just three days before the opening of the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
The Bolts sent veteran Ronjay Buenafe to the Fuel Masters in exchange for Jonathan Uyloan.
The trade was given a green light by the PBA’s commissioner’s office Wednesday.
Buenafe’s addition to Phoenix can be a vital one for the Fuel Masters as they are currently dealing with the injury of star JC Intal.
The instant offense that Buenafe is expected to provide can help the cause of Phoenix in the upcoming third conference.
On the other hand, Uyloan will make Meralco’s point guard rotation deeper.
Bolts’ leader Jimmy Alapag is still not a 100 percent recovered from his wrist injury and the addition of Uyloan can somehow help Meralco.
The Bolts will have Allen Durham as their reinforcement, while the Fuel Masters will parade a new face in Marcus Simmons.
Both teams get to show whether they benefitted from the trade when they take on each other on opening day Friday at 4:15 p.m., while Star and Mahindra, two teams which struggled last conference, will have a go at it at 7 p.m. in the tournament’s second game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The following day, action continues with the scene shifting to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay as crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra gets its first taste of action when it goes up against GlobalPort at 6:45 p.m., while Blackwater and NLEX opens the playdate with their 4:30 p.m. encounter.
Capping the tournament’s opening weekend this Sunday will be the start of San Miguel Beer’s title defense as it takes on the Fuel Masters at 4 p.m. to be followed by a tiff between Alaska and Meralco at 6:15 p.m. as the league goes right back to the Big Dome.
The first out-of-town game of the conference will be on July 30, when the Gin Kings lock horns with the Bolts in Lucena City, Quezon at 5:30 p.m.
Former Best Import awardee Marqus Blakely resumes his duties as Star’s resident reinforcement while Mahindra introduces a new name in James White.
The tournament will feature tons of returning imports, some new ones as well as some Asian reinforcements.
Meanwhile, the All-Star Weekend for this season is set on August 4-7 in Manila.
The league will conduct its annual All-Star festivities on those said dates at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.