By CLYDE MARIANO
Manila, Philippines – CaféFrance coach Jun Tiongco is wary but optimistic of his team’s chances when the PBA DLeague fires off tomorrow at the Ynares Center in Pasig City.
The team will clash with Cagayan Valley at 2 p.m., an hour after a simple opening ceremony and will be followed by the 4 p.m. encounter between Derulo Accelero and Zambales M-Builders.
“It’s going to be tough because of the quality of the competition, but we are prepared to match up with them because our goal is to really win the title,” said Tiongco in yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s in Malate.
CaféFrance will be powered by dribblers coming from Centro Escolar University: Aaron Jeruta, Samboy de Leon, Jason Opiso and John Michael Magbitang. They are bracketed in Group A with Cebuana Lhuillier, Zambales M-Builders and Wang’s Basketball Couriers.
Tiongco said they needed to win their opening game in order to boost their morale coming to this tournament.
Blackwater Sports remains one of the fancied teams in the tournament after winning the Foundation Cup, along with multi-titled squad NLEX.
“I’m not underestimating the other teams, but it’s very obvious. The teams that played in the Finals of the last conference, NLEX and Blackwater, will be the teams to beat,” said Big Chill mentor Robert Sison.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac accepted the challenge, and is confident that his players will deliver anew in this season.
“Yes, we have a positive outlook with our team. We will have the same goal of getting the back-to-back championship for Blackwater,” said Isaac. “But it will not be easy.”
A total of 14 teams are competing with newcomers Arellano-Air21, Derulo Accelero, Zambales M-Builders, National University-Banco de Oro and Wang’s Basketball Couriers. Comebacking teams are Boracay Rum, Cagayan, Hog’s Breath Café, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, NLEX, Blackwater, Big Chill, Cebuana Lhuillier and CaféFrance.