EcoOil-La Salle begins its title defense against Centro Escolar U in a battle of collegiate powerhouse squads as the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup unfurls Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
With seasoned mentor Topex Robinson at the helm, the Green Archers want no less than a triumphant debut in the 4 p.m. encounter against the equally formidable Scorpions.
Robinson though won't be around in his team's opening match to attend to some important matters. His deputy Gian Nazario will take his place in his absence.
"I will not be around for our game against CEU but we will always compete," said Robinson.
Robinson's last foray in the collegiate ranks was with Lyceum, which teamed up with Zark's Burger when it ruled the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup.
This time, he will have an equally strong squad starring the backcourt combo of Evan Nelle and Mark Nonoy and Gilas Pilipinas training pool members Kevin Quiambao and brothers Mike and Ben Phillips.
La Salle won last year's Aspirants' Cup with Derrick Pumaren at the helm.
CEU, meantime is hoping to keep its winning streak following its historic feat in the UCBL by claiming the league's first-ever championship sweep at 14-0.
Coach Jeff Perlas, Robinson's former deputy coach at Lyceum, will call the shots for CEU with Jerome Santos and Franz Ray Diaz leading the way. (JBU)