MANILA, Philippines - The PBA D-League third season kicks off today with Cebuana Lhuillier and Boracay Rum clashing in the featured match and Informatics out to make an impression in its debut against Cagayan Valley in the Aspirants Cup at The Arena in San Juan City.
With a revamped roster, the Gems hope to come out strong against the Boracay Rum side in the 4 p.m. game with coach Beaujing Acot confident of his wards’ chances to make it all the way to the semis.
“The boys are really working hard to achieve our goal (making the semis),” said Acot. “It will be very tough, but we will work hard and try to win our first game.”
While Cebuana pins its hopes on its new recruits, Boracay Rum will be leaning on an intact crew this season that has backstopped the franchise the last three conferences.
“In the absence of a rookie drafting system, I have stuck to the principle of maintaining a core group of players to hopefully offset the lack of available marquee players in our team with personnel familiarity instead,” said Boracay Rum coach Lawrence Chongson.
Like Cebuana, Informatics is eyeing no less than a semis stint on its first try with coach Buds Reyes expressing high hopes for the Icons, who withdrew from the National Athletic Association of State Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) to join the PBA’s farm league.
“Our goal is to be in the top four,” said Reyes, coach of the reigning Collegiate Athletics League champion. He added that Informatics joined the D-League for exposure and marketing mileage.
Other teams seeing action in the league’s season opening conference are three-time champion NLEX, Big Chill, Blackwater Sports, Café France, Erase Exfoliant and newcomers Jose Rizal University and Fruitas.
The eliminations will be a single round robin with the top two teams clinching outright semifinal berths. The next four teams will advance to the quarterfinals with the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds earning a twice-to-beat advantage. The bottom four teams will be eliminated.
The semis and finals will be best-of-three affairs.