The PBA Developmental League opened last March 12. Finally with the demise of the Philippine Basketball League, there is now an avenue for players to showcase their talents and develop into better players.
For the teams and for the players listed in the Foundation Cup, there are a bunch of reasons why this tournament is important.
For one thing, there are a bunch of schools that are represented who will use this tournament to prepare themselves for the coming UAAP, NCAA, NCRAA, or NAASCU wars. Sure, conspicuously missing from the list are the big names from the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the DLSU Green Archers, and the FEU Tamaraws but the rest of the colleges are more or less properly represented.
While there will be age restrictions, a PBA team is free to dump their stars in their affiliates or any random squad for them to hone their talents. This is a better way to build the confidence of their young stars that are languishing as bench warmers or practice players.
Another main reason is that for non-UAAP players to find exposure and recognition. One reason why the PBL was important is because it paved the way for us to know players like Gary David, Ronjay Buenafe, Larry Rodriguez, JR Quinahan and others.
And lastly, their stints in this tournament could pad their resumes if and when the young guys apply for the draftâ€¦ or when the old guys get another crack in returning to the major league.
Listed here are my 5 Best Teams in the D-League.
5 MAYNILAD WATER DRAGONS / SAN BEDA RED LIONS
PBA AFFILIATE: TALK N TEXT TROPANG TEXTERS
Just like Freego, calling themselves affiliates is stupid. Coached by Frankie Lim, none of these players are qualified for PBA callups because they are still playing for their respective colleges. Also, they are using this D-League stint in preparation for their upcoming NCAA title defense. However, this team is a notch above Freego in terms of talent. San Beda has an awesome recruitment program. Maynilad is knee-deep in talent and while I canâ€™t rank them on top of the rankings, expect them to shock you.
And maybeâ€¦ JUST MAYBEâ€¦ TNT could force Jason Castro to move to Team B if and when they are going to compete in the D-League playoffs.
Iâ€™m going to say itâ€™s The Blur because everyone else is 27 and above.
By the wayâ€¦ does this league accept foreigners? I donâ€™t think Sudan Daniel is a Fil-Am and yet he is listed in their roster.
KEY PLAYERS: Aside from Sudan Daniel who is a powerhouse in terms of scoring, rebounding, and blocking, the supporting cast of Maynilad should also be looked at. Jake Pascual, Anthony Semerad, and Dave Semerad are valuable pieces in the roster. Rome dela Rosa is a scoring wunderkind with a rich basketball heritage. Dave Marcelo plays a lot like a young Danny Ildefonso. And I believe this is Garvo Laneteâ€™s ticket to at least claim a second round selectionâ€¦ in 2012.
This team is trained to win and it will boost their stock en route to NCAA if they win this tournament.
4 MAX BOND SUPER GLUE SUMOS / UST GROWLING TIGERS
Pido Jarencio is part of the San Miguel squad so perhaps SMB will have dibs on their top guys. Basically this means professional journeyman Junjun Cabatu needs to step up his game if he wants to get selected by the Phoenix Fuel squadâ€¦ or become a practice player in San Miguel. Mark Benitez played less than ten games and he will use this stint to play in more PBA games. For undrafted hopefuls like Roel Hugnatan, Japs Cuan, Leimar Navarro, and Rudy Lingganay, this is a chance to shout out to the critics on why they deserve a shot in the big leagues. With the core of UST playing, expect Pidoâ€™s run and gun style to be used feverishly.
KEY PLAYERS: USTâ€™s offense is fun to watch. They run and run and run and run. With Chris Camus, Jeric Teng, Jeric Fortuna, Melo Afuang, and Aljon Mariano expect the Sumos to have that. However, one flaw in USTâ€™s system is their lack of big men. That is why Cabatu, Hugnatan, and Benitez are more than welcome to strut their stuffs.
However, the addition of Reil Cervantes is what the doctor ordered. In his FEU days, Cervantes can play four positions and his offensive and defensive tenacity is highly-acclaimed in the amateur circles. Cervantes is aching in making an impact for the draft.
3 PHAREX NAPROXEN SODIUM BIDANG GENERIX
Cool name huh? It sounds more of a magic spell when dictated. I hope and pray Pharex will have the money to support their basketball team because it seems that they are committed. What you need to expect from this team is a bunch of recognition-hungry stalwarts that is basically shouting at the heavens that they deserve a PBA roster spot. The team is loaded with undrafted players from the last three years like Marlon Adolfo, James Mangahas, JR Tecson, Mac Montilla, Chester Taylor, Raymond Aguilar, and Leomar Losentes. They have a bunch of underrated collegiate veterans like Jeff Viernes and Jeff Morial. Bidang Generixâ€™ Gian Carlo Tan is a scary tactician because he likes to steal things (meaning defense-oriented).
KEY PLAYERS: I am intrigued on how on two players: Jason Deutchman and Edwin Asoro. For Asoro, he was touted as a playing clone of Don Camaso when Asoro was still playing for NU and Harbour Centre and Camaso was playing for the Manila Metrostars. He was drafted in the second round by a talent-hungry Barako Bull squad. He failed to make the team because he lacked the skills. If I was Asoro Iâ€™d be embarrassed considering this was the same team that used seldom used-beanpole Gilbert Lao as their starting center for an entire conference. For Asoro, it is time for him to make a statement. The problem however is that almost all of the players in this roster want the same recognition he yearns.
Another problem that could be a spotlight stealer is Jason Deutchman. His name sounds imposing and while I havenâ€™t seen him play, maybe Iâ€™d go giddy with the performance he will put up.
2 NLEX ROAD WARRIORS / SAN SEBASTIAN STAGS
PBA AFFILIATE: MERALCO BOLTS
Now this is how a PBA affiliate roster should look. Sure, NLEX is still a college-themed squad, parading the key contributors of San Sebastian. But I donâ€™t think the Warriors will primarily rely on Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual, Ian Sangalang, and Pamboy Raymundo. They will be joined by couple of ex-pros (even if it was a mere game where he only had two turnovers in three minutes, Ford Arao still played for the Bolts), a solid crop of collegiate standouts, and a determined bunch of Fil-foreigners.
KEY PLAYERS: Calvin Abueva is a shooting guard/small forward that can score, rebound, and defend. When Jimbo Aquino graduated, he became San Sebastianâ€™s main man. Joining him in the slasher spot is Ogie Menor.
Menor, a former San Beda Lion, was relegated to Meralcoâ€™s reserved list after the Boltsâ€™ acquisition of Sol Mercado. There were reports that Menor is being used as trade bait to acquire the services of Renren Ritualo from Powerade but when Ritualo became a free agent, sending him away is kind of redundant. Menor is a cut above the rest and I expect him to make this stint to jumpstart his PBA career.
Eric Salamat and Woody Co are tolerable draft prospects and they will use this chance to boost their PBA entry. Salamat needs to work on his pointguard skills though since itâ€™s almost impossible that he will play in the PBA as a point guard.
There are a bunch of Fil-Ams playing for them like Cody Tesoro, Chris Ellis, Karl Dehasa, and former PBL-Liga Pilipinas top pick Cliff Hodge. I am looking forward to Christian Reyes, who is the younger brother of Talk N Textâ€™s star guard Ryan Reyes.
Boyet Fernandez is happy that the management gave him a free hand in choosing his players and rightfully so, they are coupled with Cebuana as the teams to beat in this D-League.
1 CEBUANA LHUILLIER GEMS
I have a funny feeling that since Luigi Trillo is an Alaska assistant coach, they would name Cebuana as their affiliateâ€¦ but I guess I was wrong.
I believe this is the team to beat. In terms of semi-pro experience, the team is loaded with players with accolades and accomplishments. Aside from this, they equipped themselves with able veterans, up and coming PBA players, and hotshot Fil-foreigners.
They have three players with PBA experience with Kelvin Gregorio who last saw action with the Sta. Lucia Realty, Benedict Fernandez who was a member of the Barako Bull Energy Boosters and the ABLâ€™s Philippine Patriots, and Vaughn Canta, who played a couple of games as a San Miguel Beermen in the recently-concluded 2010-11 PBA Philippine Cup before getting traded to Barako Bull.
JR Sena and Pari Llagas are two former first round picks that failed to see action in the PBA. Hyram Bagatsing, Ariel Mepana, and Marvin Hayes are players from the recent draft that failed to see action in the PBA (although at least for Hayes he was picked by Alaska in the second round). Then you mix them with collegiate standouts Allein Maliksi and Kevin Alas.
And have we mentioned the two Fil-Ams?
KEY PLAYERS: AJ Mandani could surprise people but all eyes are checking out Fil-Am discovery Matthew Lee. The guy played for the UCLA Bruins. If you think this school produced trash, they you can tell that to their array of influential hoop stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Ed Oâ€™Bannon, Aaron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Earl Watson, and Baron Davis. Scouts are telling everyone that Lee plays a lot like former PBA player Kenny Evans.
Hopefully Lee plays like Kenny Evansâ€™ Talk N Text version because the rest of his versions suckâ€¦ and basically demands a lot of money that he doesnâ€™t really deserve.
The games will be seen on a delayed basis on IBC 13 every game day from 6 to 10pm.
Karl Dehesa, Christian Reyes, Cliff Hodge, Chris Ellis signing t-shirts at NLEX Road Warriors launching.
Is it only me, that halfway through the clip, the NLEX Road Warriors Power Dancers should have gotten more attention?
Anyhow, let me declare my team this coming PBA-DL tournament. I’ll be cheering for NLEX, as long as the Power Dancers are present during games, cheering with me.
Go NLEX, Hike! Hike! Hike!