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Pirates back Zark’s bid in D-League

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By Jerome Lagunzad

After making waves in the NCAA, the Lyceum Pirates intend to make another noise as they bring their act to the PBA Developmental League in partnership with Zark’s Burgers.

Fresh from a runner-up finish following an 18-game sweep of the elimination round, coach Topex Robinson and the rest of his wards, led by reigning NCAA MVP CJ Perez, are determined to help the Jawbreakers turn things around after a forgettable debut in the Foundation Cup last season.

“It’s a new journey for us and we’re very excited to continue our (title) quest. Hopefully, we can achieve what we failed to do the last time out,” said Robinson during the team’s formal unveiling yesterday at the initial Zark’s Burgers branch on Taft Avenue, Manila.

Team owner Rolandrei Viktor Varona admitted he sees glaring similarities between Zark’s Burgers as a fast-rising burger chain and Lyceum as an emerging NCAA power in their respective fields.

“This time, we want to associate our brand with winning. And it’s important for us to have that same vision. ‘Yung skills, maituturo naman talaga ‘yan. Pero ‘yung character-building, ‘yun ang pinaka-importante,” he said.

Aside from the 6-foot-1 Perez, the Jawbreakers will field the formidable core of the Pirates that includes Cameroon big man Mike Nzeusseu, MJ Ayaay, Reymar Caduyac and the Marcelino twins – reigning NCAA Rookie of the Year Jaycee and Jayvee.

Backing them up are Jeffrey Santos, Ralph Tansingco, Aldrich Liwag, Nino Ibanez, Jeric Serrano, Edcor Marata, Kim Cinco, Spencer Pretta, former San Sebastian forward Rhanzelle Yong and pro league draftee Wilson Baltazar.

The Jawbreakers, affiliated to pro league member Phoenix Fuel Masters, are also set to bring in Robinson’s support group like former pros Rommel Adducul, Gilbert Malabanan and Jeff Perlas, with Bernard Yang serving as the team representative.

While he admitted that “we’re not thinking about redemption but more of improving ourselves,” Robinson believes they can do such with the strong support given by the Jawbreakers management.

“We share the same values and belief. We have the same goal, same mindset and same vision. We may not have the best available talents out there compared to the other teams but we focus more on establishing our own culture,” he said.

Varona echoed Robinson’s sentiments, saying: “As we take our brand to the next level, we also want to align our basketball team to the direction of our brand. What’s important for us is that we keep on improving and we keep on learning.”

The PBA D-League’s brand new season kicks off with the Aspirants Cup on Jan. 18. next year.