MANILA, Philippines — After just a swift break, the PBA Developmental League resumes next week for the 2013 Foundation Cup action.
And after a gruelling Aspirants Cup which saw both semifinal matches going the distance, the competition is expected to be even tougher this time.
Three more teams join the fray with Hogs Breath Café, Jumbo Plastic, and EA Regen Medical Group Inc. hiking the total to 12 participating squads.
Big Chill is back to regain dominance after an early exit last conference, so are semifinalist Blackwater, with virtually the same line-up, and last year’s runner-up Cagayan Valley.
Air21-JRU, which made a fabled run last conference, and Erase Placenta are not in the list of returning squads but Boracay Rum, Café France, Cebuana Lhuillier, Fruitas Shakers, and Informatics are coming back.
NLEX, the only champions the league has ever had since its inception, welcomes the new competition trying to derail its bid for a “five-peat.”
“This will be a very exciting and competitive conference,” said Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez.” “We just have to continue to outwork everyone and be ready every game.”
The Shakers, this time, have tied up with Far Eastern University — which are both under the same head coach Nash Racela — as part of the build-up for the UAAP.
While select University of Santo Tomas players — save for Karim Abdul and Jeric Fortuna — stayed with Blackwater, Jeric Teng signed up with Informatics and Aljon Mariano with Jumbo Plastic.
According to a report in the PBA website, former San Sebastian standouts, meanwhile, compose the bulk of EA Regen’s roster.
Opening games schedule features Cebuana Lhuillier against Boracay Rum at 12 noon, while Fruitas tests the mettle of Jumbo Plastic at 2 p.m..
NLEX, which resumes practice on Friday, open its campaign against Big Chill in the third game at 4 p.m. at the San Juan Arena.
The format is familiar: a single round robin elimination round with two top teams earning outright semi-final berths.
The next four teams, meanwhile, advance to the quarterfinals with the third and fourth seed teams earning a twice-to-beat advantage. The bottom six teams are eliminated.
The semi-final round and the Finals are set to be a best-of-three showdown.