Caida’s No.1 pick Jason Perkins and takes on third overall selection Von Pessumal and Tanduay Rhum in the opener of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup on January 21 at The Arena in San Juan.
The match is said to be a battle between potential favorites as Caida, formerly Racal Motors, and Tanduay have long hoped to move past the playoff stages and finally win the big one in the tournament.
The top rookies of both teams are also looking to re-ignite their rivalry which started way back in the UAAP where Perkins played for La Salle and Pessumal donned the Ateneo colors.
It is expected to be a wide open race this year with the departure of several powerhouse squads which ruled the league in the previous installments.
With defending Aspirants’ Cup champion Hapee out of the tournament and last year’s contenders in Cagayan Valley and Cebuana Lhuillier also opting out of the league, this is the biggest chance for teams to finally emerge.
And with both Caida and Tanduay expected to field in strong teams this year, this could be their biggest chance.
“We’ve always longed for a big man which can give us stability underneath,” said Caida head coach Caloy Garcia.
The Tile Masters will once again be bannered by their three headed guard line-up in Jiovanni Jalalon, Jeff Viernes and Rudy Lingganay.
The Rhum Masters on the other hand will still be having the same core from last year with the controversial coach Lawrence Chongson thinking big on signing some of the biggest names in the UAAP, particularly in Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer.
Chongson looked to sign the FEU core of Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo and Roger Pogoy but the trio opted to play for the FEU-Phoenix squad this year.
“We hope to move past our previous performances and we’ll try to form the best team this year,” said Chongson.