Marinerong Pilipino and Zark’s Burgers-Lyceum could provide a possible preview of the finals when they meet in the opener of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup set Jan. 18 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The lone game comes after the traditional parade of teams at 3 p.m. to mark the start of the eighth season of the PBA’s developmental competition composed of 13 teams, mostly from the collegiate ranks.
Other participants are Centro Escolar University, Akari-Adamson, AMA Online Education, Jose Rizal University, University of Perpetual Help, Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College, Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian, Gamboa Coffee Mix-St. Clare, Go for Gold, Wangs Basketball-Letran and Mila’s Lechon.
Marinerong Pilipino and Zark’s are tipped as the top contenders for the tournament for various reasons.
Handled by former UAAP and NCAA champion coach Koy Banal, Marinero earned a surprise semifinal appearance in last season’s Foundation Cup despite finishing sixth in the elimination round. The Skippers are extended to have the core players back in the upcoming tourney.
After a dismal debut last conference, Zark’s forged a tie-up with Lyceum, which starts its quest to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to San Beda in the NCAA finals despite sweeping the double-round eliminations.
All eyes will be on NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez, who will lead the Topex Robinson-mentored Zark’s quest to meet high expectations.
Most of the games are going to be held at Ynares, with the Pasig City Sports Center and JCSGO gym in Cubao, Quezon City serving as alternate venues.