March 13, 2024

EcoOil-La Salle opens campaign vs CCI-Yengskivel

REIGNING champion EcoOil-La Salle and fancied Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda loom as the heavy favorites when they usher in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup against separate opponents Thursday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

The Green Archers kickstart their three-peat bid in the main game at 7:30 p.m. against newcomer CCI-Yengskivel following the curtain raiser at 4:30 p.m. featuring last season's runners-up Red Lions opposite Go Torrakku-St. Clare.

Last year's MVP Kevin Quiambao is not included in this year's roster but the Green Archers will have the core that won both the UAAP and the Aspirant's last year.

La Salle coach Topex Robinson will also have as his disposal UAAP 3x3 MVP CJ Austria, Earl Abadam, Joshua David, Raven Cortez and Jonnel Policarpio who took over from Evan Nelle, Mark Nonoy and team captain Ben Phillips.

EcoOil-La Salle ruled the last two seasons of the D-League and hopes are high that the Green Archers will make it a three-peat.

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Their first tests will be against the Crusaders, who are out to send a message that they are here to compete.

Sharing the spotlight is last year's runner-up Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda which aims to make a return to the finals.

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda Mentor Yuri Escueta will also be parading an intact core bannered by NCAA Finals MVP James Payosing, Jomel Puno, Aaron James Royo and Yukien Andrada.

The Red Lions lost ace guard Jacob Cortez, who transferred to La Salle but acquired Bryan Sajonia (from FEU), RC Calimag (from UP) and Penny Estactio (from La Salle).

Despite Marinerong Pilipino's strong lineup, seasoned tactician Jinino Manansala declared that his St. Clare unit will give the NCAA king a run for money. (JBU)