THE two best teams in the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup vie for gold as Marinerong Pilipino and BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare start their Finals bout Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Skippers are tagged as the favorites to win it all this conference, having won all of their nine games heading into the title match including a two-game sweep of TIP in the semifinals.
And coach Yong Garcia is glad that Marinerong Pilipino is in the Finals for the first time since it entered the developmental ranks in 2017, but he's not settling for just an appearance.
"We're happy na nasa Finals kami pero mas masaya siguro kung makuha namin yung championship," said Garcia.
Conference MVP frontrunner Eloy Poligrates as well as his fellow seasoned cagers in Mark Yee and Dan Sara are expected to spearhead Marinerong Pilipino's attack.
Standing on its way, though, is a BRT Sumisip-St. Clare side that is as determined to succeed.
The Saints were impressive as well, sweeping their assignments in the eliminations to the quarters before finishing off rivals CEU in three games in the semis for their first-ever Finals trip.
Coach Stevenson Tiu, though, knows that his side is the heavy underdog in the championship bout, but it doesn't mean they are just going to back down to the veteran-laden Skippers.
"Obviously underdog kami. But I told them, na-reach natin Finals, so it's your time to shine," said Tiu, who's making his third D-League Finals appearance after his first two with Che'Lu Bar and Grill.
Malian center Mohammed Pare, Joshua Fontanilla, and Junjie Hallare are seen to lead BRT Sumisip-St. Clare once more.
Game One of the best-of-three championship series tips off at 3:30 p.m.