TEN teams will battle for supremacy when the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup opens on Jan. 19 at Ynares Sports Arena.
La Salle standout Jeron Teng leads a retooled AMA Online Education squad as it opens the festivities against Team Batangas at 3 p.m. on opening day.
Teng, this year's top Rookie Draft pick, will team up with Jay-R Taganas and Ryan Arambulo as the Titans hope to rebound from last season's disappointments of not making it to the semifinals.
The duel will commence following the opening ceremonies scheduled at 2 p.m.
Four more teams will debut on Jan. 23 at the same Pasig venue, with Racal Ceramica facing guest squad Blustar of Malaysia at 3 p.m., while fancied sides Cafe France and Tanduay collide at 5 p.m.
On the next day, Jan. 24, Cignal-San Beda will make its initial foray in the league as it takes on AMA at 5 p.m., right after another debuting school team, Jose Rizal University, clashes with Blustar at 3 p.m.
Action resumes on Jan. 26 with two more debuting teams-- Victoria Sports-MLQU and Wang's Ballclub -- playing at 5 p.m., right after the JRU-Batangas showdown at 3 p.m.
Tournament format calls for a single elimination round robin affair, with teams playing nine games each.
The top two teams will proceed outright to the semifinals, while squads ranked three to six will advance to the quarterfinals, with teams three and four owning twice-to-beat advantages. The bottom four teams will be eliminated.
Winners of the said quarterfinals series will face off against the top two seeds in a best-of-3 series, while the Finals will also be contested in a best-of-3 championship tiff.
Games will be played on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays with game times set at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The Bakers and the Rhum Makers, runners-up in the Aspirants' and Foundation Cup respectively, are looming to be teams to beat.
Cafe France forms the core of UCBL champion Centro Escolar University led by Rodrigue Ebondo, while No. 2 pick Jom Sollano and ex-pro Mark Cruz, who played for NCAA Season 91 champion, will reunite in Tanduay.