Cignal opens its season sweep bid against newcomer Flying V at the start of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Hawkeyes, who captured the Aspirants Cup crown in their first D-League conference, take on the Thunder in the main game at 5 p.m. while Gamboa Coffee Mix and Zark’s Burger debut in the league as they clash in the opener at 3 p.m.
Cignal head coach Boyet Fernandez admitted that this will be a different journey for the team as he no longer have the core of the San Beda College squad that helped them win the previous tournament.
“This will be a completely different conference for us. It will be another tough conference for us, but we’re all excited,” said Fernandez, the winningest coach in the D-League with seven titles.
As most of his players are preparing for the coming National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Fernandez recruited former Far Eastern University forward Raymar Jose and ex-Red Lion guard Dan Sara to join forces with holdovers Davon Potts, Jason Perkins and Pamboy Raymundo.
Potts has been loaned to the team, as he will also join San Beda when the NCAA tournament starts.
Fernandez is downplaying their chances against Flying V, which will be handled by veteran coach Eric Altamirano and will be led by La Salle standout Jeron Teng.
“With Jeron Teng in their lineup and coach Eric (Altamirano) coaching the team, this is a very strong and tough matchup for us. But we will be ready,” he added.
Besides Teng, Altamirano will also bank on ex-pros Eric Salamat, Jerick Cañada, and Gab Banal.
Meanwhile, the Coffee Lovers will be handled by playing-coach Leo Avenido and will be beefed up by ex-pros Val Acuña, Jens Knuttel, and Marcy Arellano.
Rob Celiz and James Mangahas will lead the Jawbreakers of head coach Jade Marvin Padrigao.
Other participating teams in the Foundation Cup are AMA Online Education, Batangas Team, Centro Escolar University, Marinerong Pilipino, Racal Motors, Tanduay Rhum, and Wangs Basketball.