F PBA D-League set for take-off - Powcast Sports

PBA D-League set for take-off

source: Joaquin Henson | philstar.com

The PBA Developmental League, or D-League, is slated to reel off at the Arena in San Juan on March 12 with two games on tap in the inaugural bill.

Admission is free. The first game is tentatively scheduled to start at 12 noon. The second contest will pit coach Lawrence Chongson’s Cobra Energy Drink Ironmen against coach Frankie Lim’s Maynilad Water Dragons.

As an added attraction, San Miguel Beer will play Smart Gilas in a regular Commissioner’s Cup match at 6 p.m. that night in the same venue.

“We expect the second D-League game to finish at about 4 p.m. so there will be a two-hour wait before the start of the PBA game,” said PBA media affairs bureau chief and special assistant to the commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday. “D-League players and team officials are welcome to watch the PBA game for free but unfortunately, we’re not able to open the gates to the public at no charge. We’ll sell tickets for the PBA game like we do for other PBA games.”

With the collapse of the PBL and Liga Pilipinas, the emergence of the D-League is a huge shot in the arm for local basketball. It provides a transition league for varsity players moving to the PBA and an opportunity for varsity teams to toughen up.

Marcial said PBA commissioner Chito Salud intends to stage two D-League conferences during a PBA season. Salud, operations and technical director Rickie Santos and Marcial will take charge of the D-League. No D-League commissioner will be named. Butch Maniego, formerly of the PBL, was recently appointed tournament supervisor in charge of administrative affairs, added Marcial.

The D-League’s initial cast lists 13 teams – Agri Nurture-FCA Cultivators (coach Arsenio Dysangco), Café France (coach Mon Jose), Cobra Energy Drink (Chongson), Blackwater Elite (coach Leo Isaac), Max Bond Super Glue Sumos (coach Pido Jarencio), Maynilad Water (Lim), NLex Road Warriors of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (coach Boyet Fernandez), Pharex Naproxen Sodium (coach Carlo Tan), PC Gilmore (coach Richard del Rosario), Cebuana Lhuillier Gems (coach Luigi Trillo, assistant Bong Hawkins), Junior Powerade Tigers (coach Ricky Dandan), RnW Pacific Pipes (coach Topex Robinson) and Freego Jeans (coach Leo Austria).

The tournament format calls for the 13 teams to be split into two groups. Comprising Group A are NLex, Freego, Pacific Pipes, Blackwater, Pharex and PC Gilmore. Making up Group B are Cebuana Lhuillier, Maynilad, Junior Powerade, Max Bond, Cobra Energy Drink, Café France and Agri Nurture-FCA. The eliminations will be a single round- robin in each group. Since Group A has six teams, each will play an extra game – the pairings to be decided by lottery. After the elimination, the top two finishers of each group gain outright tickets to the second round of the playoffs. The others move on to slug it out in knockout games until only two are left standing. The finals will be a best-of-three affair.

The age range for D-League players is 17-26. Marcial said D-League teams with PBA links may enlist rookies and sophomores from their affiliates. Freego, for instance, is linked to Air 21, Maynilad to Talk ‘N’ Text, NLex to Meralco, Junior Powerade to Powerade and Café France to Rain Or Shine.

The league would’ve welcomed 14 entries but the City of Antipolo withdrew at the last minute.

Junior Powerade’s lineup includes eight UP stalwarts. Among the Maroons are Magi Sison, Michael Gamboa and Moriah Joel Gingerich. Others in the cast are UE’s James Martinez, La Salle’s Bryan Ilad, Fil-Am Mark Jeffries of William Penn University and Fil-Am John Smith of the University of Hawaii.

Cebuana’s roster lists PBA veterans Vaughn Canta, Benedict Fernandez and Kelvin Gregorio. Trillo is also bringing in UST’s Alain Maliksi, UE’s Pari Llagas, University of the Visayas’ Ariel Mepana and Fil-Ams Matt Lee and A. J. Mandani. A surprise discovery is the six-foot Lee, a full-blooded Filipino (parents George and Maripaz) who made the UCLA varsity as a walk-on in 2006-07. Trillo said Lee is a Kenny Evans play-alike. Lee’s UCLA teammates included NBA veterans Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison. Lee was brought in by team owner Jean Henri Lhuillier through his San Francisco contact Marvin Quebeq.

Max Bond’s core will be from UST but the Sumos are reinforced by ABL hotshot Rudy Lingganay, Reynel Hugnatan’s brother Roel and PBA veteran Jun-Jun Cabatu. NLex will be bannered by PBA veteran Ogie Menor, five Fil-Ams (Ryan Reyes’ brother Christian, future first round draft shoo-in Clifford Hodge, Chris Giles, Karl Dehesa and Cody Tesoro), former UP star Woody Co, Erik Suguitan of San Beda, Jaypee Belencion of Letran, Erik Salamat of Ateneo and four San Sebastain standouts Pamboy Raymundo, Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual and Ian Sanggalang. PBA veteran Ford Arao is in the injured list.

Café France is suiting up 11 cagers from Centro Escolar University (CEU) and three recruits, NU’s Jewel Ponferrada, Jose Rizal’s Jay-R Bulangis and Fil-German Marvin Graebel. Heading the CEU cast are Leeward Lobaton, Grevani Rublico, Ryan Gallardo and J. P. Magbitang.

We’re not a strong team compared to the lineups of the other teams,” said Mon Jose, a PBA veteran and Philippine coach in last year’s Youth Olympics in Singapore. “CEU’s monicker is the Scorpions but I still don’t know if we’ll end up using that.”

Del Rosario said he formed the PC Gilmore squad only the other day. Among his players are Carlo Lastimosa of St. Benilde, Mark Sarangay and Allan Mangahas of Mapua and Jam Cortes of Letran. “We’re mostly a mix of college players,” said Del Rosario, a former PBA player now a B-Meg assistant coach. “No ex-pros.”

Blackwater will lean on six standouts from Arellano University led by Andrian Celada, an NCAA mythical five pick. Others in the roster include Gio Ciria Cruz, Jonathan Belorio of Letran, Ian Mazo and Jerby del Rosario of Mapua and Joshua Saret who once shot 83 points in a single NCAA juniors game.

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