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CafeFrance tests MP Hotel cagers

Games Today (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
11 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies
12 noon – CaféFrance vs MP Hotel
2 p.m. – Cebuana Lhuillier vs Racal Motors
4 p.m. – AMA vs Wang’s Basketball

CaféFrance looks to spoil the debut of the Manny Pacquiao-owned MP Hotel as the PBA D-League kicks off the season-opening Aspirants Cup today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Hoping to make the semifinals for the first time ever, the Bakers are determined to give the Warriors a rude awakening in their maiden appearance when they clash in the first game at 12 noon.

Bakers coach Egay Macaraya is confident that his team can make a giant leap, especially with six-time champion NLEX and 2013 Foundation Cup champion Blackwater already in the pro ranks.

“I believe that with our line-up now, given the time for preparation, we can make the semis,” Macaraya said.

For the Aspirants Cup, Café-France will be mostly of players from Centro Escolar University although the Bakers have added former University of the East star Bong Galanza and one-time La Salle center Yutien Andrada to bolster their lineup.

“It’s all about how our team jells and plays together, for now, kulang pa kami sa teamwork, pero we’re getting there,” said Macaraya.

The Bakers will take on a Pacquiao’s Warriors who are stars from the Visayas and Mindanao region.

One of MP Hotel’s players who are hoping to make a name for himself in Manila is Wowie Escosio, a former CESAFI Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player who led University of the Visayas to last year’s championship.

“I believe we can compete well with the schools from Manila. Bibigyan namin sila ng magandang laban,” MP Hotel coach Arvin Bonleon said.

Meanwhile, Racal Motors and AMA Computer University will also make their debuts today.

Racal will be put to the test early against Cebuana Lhuillier at 2 p.m. while AMA battles returning Wang’s Basketball-Athletes in Action in the final game of the tripleheader at 4 p.m.

The Gems are coming off a semifinal appearance in last season’s Foundation Cup and have added former players from Blackwater to boost their title aspirations.

Those Blackwater players are University of Santo Tomas star Kevin Ferrer, Gio Ciriacruz and former pro Allan Mangahas. Other new players for the Boycie Zamar-coached Gems are San Sebastian’s Bradwyn Guinto and La Salle’s Norbert Torres.