by Jerome Lagunzad
Games Today (Ynares Sports Arena)
1 p.m. – Che’Lu Bar and Grill vs Marinero
3 p.m. – Batangas-EAC vs CEU
Perennial contenders Marinerong Pilipino and Centro Escolar University gun for a share of the lead today when they take on separate rivals in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Skippers, fresh from a 95-83 win over AMA Online Education Titans exactly a week ago, will have the initial chance at 1 p.m. against the Che’Lu Bar and Grill Revellers, the bridesmaid finishers in the season-opening Aspirants Cup.
Forward Jorey Napoles, who tallied 25 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in an astonishing debut performance, should be at the forefront of Marinero’s strong surge alongside top recruits Trevis Jackson, Javi Gomez De Liaño and Rob Mañalang.
Chemistry is also not an issue so far for the Skippers since veteran mentor Koy Banal is fielding the core of Technological Institute of the Philippines handled by Potit de Vera, who is serving as his lead assistant this time.
“The players are not having a hard time in making adjustments. They know each other and although they are young, what we have is a solid team,” said Banal, who also has 6-foot-8 Senegalese center Papa Ndiaye.
Also eager to pick up from where they left the last time out are the Scorpions who are favored at 3 p.m. against Batangas, built around the core of Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.
Veteran coach Derrick Pumaren steered the Scorpions to a 94-78 win over the Revellers, 94-78, last week.
“Hopefully, we find a new coach so we will be able to run the team,” said Pumaren, the school’s general manager who is serving as acting coach. “We are in a rebuilding process. I’ve been running the team since the unexpected resignation of coach Yong. It’s good that the players are adjusting quickly.”
The Generals are also determined to make their own adjustments as they try to recover from an 88-75 decision to league-leading Go for Gold Scratchers last Monday.