Games Today (Ynares Arena)
1 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
2 p.m. – Café France vs Cagayan Valley
4 p.m. – Derulo Accelero vs Zambales M-Builders
Manila, Philippines – Café France looks solid with its backcourt rotation starring Eloy Poligrates, Ping Exciminiano and Jens Knuttel
But the team’s lack of chemistry worries their coach, Egay Macaraya, as the Bakers launch their campaign in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup today against the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, a team that also underwent massive revamp during the off season.
The scheduled 2 o’clock encounter opens hostilities in the league’s 2014 season which gets going with a double-header at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
A brief opening ceremony starting at 1 p.m. ushers in the 14-team tournament. Incoming PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo of Meralco will welcome the participating teams before declaring the season open.
PBA Commissioner Chito Salud and outgoing PBA chairman Robert Non of Barangay Ginebra will also grace the occasion.
“It’s very hard to accelerate trust and getting to know each other in a short period of time,” Macaraya said. “I don’t know what to expect from a new team like ours knowing that they have yet to jell. We’ll just hope for the best and try to improve every game.”
Poligrates and Exciminiano played for the Rising Suns last season and helped the team reach the Finals of the Aspirants’ Cup. Their familiarity of their former team’s play patterns should provide the Bakers some edge.
Macaraya is also aware that he may lose his backcourt trio as well as scoring forward Mike Parala, who have made themselves available for the Nov. 3 PBA Rookie Draft.
“Management decision was to take the risk and decide later on their replacement,” Macaraya said.
The Rising Suns also underwent a massive makeover during the off season. They recruited Arellano’s John Pinto and Prince Caperal, Adamson’s Don Trollano, and Mapua’s Kenneth Ighalo and JRU’s Michael Mabulac, while keeping rugged forward Mark Bringas, shooters Adrian Celeda and Jason Melano.
The day’s other game pits newcomers Derulo Accelero and Zambales M-Builders at 4 p.m.
The Oilers built their team around former UP Fighting Maroons and will be coached by Paolo Mendoza, himself a former Maroon and an ex-PBA player.
The Builders are powered by former Perpetual Help shooter Jett Vidal and Far Eastern University stalwarts Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Gryann Mendoza and Bryan Cruz.