PBA D-League: College stars bolster field
MANILA, Philippines—Two crack collegiate guards boost an already formidable NLEX squad when the second season of the PBA D-League rolls off on October 20.
Far Eastern University’s RR Garcia, the UAAP Most Valuable Player last year, and Ateneo’s Emman Monfort signed up for the star-studded Road Warriors which is vying for a second straight crown in the Aspirant’s Cup.
Cebuana Lhuillier, last season’s runner-up, returns with a revamped roster led by former PBL MVP Vic Manuel and ex-pro Jai Reyes.
Four teams opted to skip the new season, but newcomers Trinity College-Dub Unlimited and Boracay Rhum complete an 11-team field.
“All teams beefed up their lineup, so I expect the competition to be a lot more intense this season,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
Suiting up for NLEX anew are San Sebastian stars Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang and the Filipino-American duo of Clifford Hodge and Chris Ellis, who all played pivotal roles in the Road Warriors’ inaugural title run.
“We still have a solid lineup,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, who lost guards Eric Salamat, Pamboy Raymundo and Ogie Menor to the pro league. “It’s just a matter of how we will play as a team.”
PC Gilmore, Freego Jeans, Cobra Energy Drink, RnW Pacific Pipes, Big Chill (formerly FCA), Café France and Blackwater round out the cast in the league serving as the PBA’s farm tournament.
“The entry of two new ballclubs and the effort of the teams to improve their lineups ensure a high level of entertainment for the fans,” said Salud.
Cebuana Lhuillier also tapped Letran’s lanky center Raymund Almazan, Arellano’s Andrian Celada and former UAAP standouts Paul Sanga and James Mangahas.
“Our modest goal is to try to be as competitive as we can,” said Gems coach Luigi Trillo.
Last season’s semifinalist Max Bond along with Maynilad, Powerade and Pharex begged off from competition this season.
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