Marinerong Pilipino and BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare College will clash at 3:30 p.m. today in Game One of the best-of-three finals of the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Skippers clinched their first finals berth since joining the developmental league in 2017 after an an unbeaten run of nine games, including a sweep of Technological Institute of the Philippines in the semifinals.
“We’re happy that we’re in the finals but we’ll be happier if we get the championship,” said Skippers head coach Yong Garcia.
Conference MVP frontrunner Eloy Poligrates, who tallied an average of 21.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals, will lead Marinero’s assault.
Fellow MVP contender Jhonard Clarito and veterans Mark Yee, Dan Sara and Jay-R Alabanza are also expected to provide firepower for the Skippers.
On the other hand, the Saints seized their first finals spot after outlasting rival Centro Escolar University (CEU) in three games in the semifinals.
The Saints also swept the six-game eliminations and the quarterfinals.
But Sumisip-St. Clare seasoned mentor Stevenson Tiu said it’s a tall order to challenge the veteran-laden Marinero.
“Obviously, we’re the underdogs. But I told them, we’ve reached the finals and it’s their time to shine,” said Tiu, who is eyeing his first D-League trophy in his third finals stint.
MVP candidate Joshua Fontanilla, who tallied an average of 12.4 points, 6.4 dimes, 4.1 boards and 2.0 steals, will spearhead the Saints’ attack together with mainstays Malian big man Mohammed Pare and Junjie Hallare.
Veteran players Cris Dumapig, Alfren Batino and Hesed Gabo are also expected to provide additional firepower.