UE star reinforces ‘Marineno’ in D-League

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Thursday
(Ynares Sports Arena)
3 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
4 p.m. – Marinero vs Zark’s-Lyceum

Being the strongest contender on paper is one thing. Proving it on the court is another.

That explains why Marinerong Pilipino coach Koy Banal has expressed guarded optimism about the Skippers’ title chances in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup that gets going next week at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Fresh from a solid semifinals finish in their maiden campaign in the Foundation Cup last year, Marinerong Pilipino is tipped by most of its rivals as the top title contender with the return of several vital cogs and the arrival of key acquisitions.

Former La Salle standout Abu Tratter and Ateneo counterpart Vince Tolentino, along with ex-Rain or Shine practice player Billy Ray Robles and University of the East’s Alvin Pasaol are expected to make an immediate impact as they team up with holdovers led by guards Achie Iñigo and Renzo Subido, giving the Skippers enough tools to contend with other title favorites.

However, Banal, 55, admitted it remains to be seen how deep Marinerong Pilipino can plunge to secure the golden treasure.

“On paper, yes we agree that we have a good composition of players. But iba ‘yung individual, iba ‘yung team as a whole. We need to fast-track and build up our chemistry further,” he said in a phone interview with Tempo-Bulletin yesterday.

“We have a pretty good set of players who are capable of competing on the next level. Pero ‘yung immediate challenge sa amin is how fast can we jell as a team. ‘Yung chemistry kasi ang pinaka-crucial para sa amin.”

With journeyman and former skipper Mark Isip taking the backseat this time as an assistant, much will also be expected from the likes of big men Papot Paredes, Gab Banal and G-Boy Babilonia as they patrol the shaded lane.

Ditto with veteran guard Joseph Terso, whom Banal is expecting to provide the needed stability and leadership which will also be given by former pro league star Denok Miranda, who will serve as one of the assistant coaches for the meantime.

Asked what the Skippers’ collective goal is, Banal said: “Of course, that’s to win the championship. Nothing more, nothing less.

“But it’s not gonna be easy. Kaya my fellow coaches are helping me out to fast-track the chemistry. We believe in unity and teamwork. It’s hard (to win the title) but we believe that it is achievable.”

Whether Marinerong Pilipino is for real will be known right on the opening day when the Skippers square off with Zark’s Burgers, built around the core of formidable Lyceum led by reigning NCAA MVP CJ Perez.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Online

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