D-League: Aspirants’ Cup draws 12 squads

January 19, 2020

TWELVE is the final number of teams waging ‘wars’ in the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, which will start on Feb.13.

NCAA champion Letran and UAAP runner-up University of Santo Tomas spearhead the field for the first conference in what is shaping up to be another wild race to the finish.

The Knights return to their name as Wangs Basketball-Letran while the Growling Tigers will be the UST Builders Warehouse as the two are seen as the early contenders for the crown.

Only Marinerong Pilipino, which settled for a bridesmaid finish in the Foundation Cup last season, will be the club team for this tourney, as there are 11 school-based teams joining the fray.

EcoOil-DLSU and Mapua will be in their maiden participation in the PBA D-League, while mainstays Centro Escolar University and AMA Online Education are set for their returns.

Rounding out the participants are San Sebastian, Far Eastern University, Diliman College, Technological Institute of the Philippines, and Enderun Colleges.

All 12 teams will have the chance to load up their rosters with the 2020 PBA D-League Draft set on Monday at the PBA Office in Libis.

Fil-Am forward Jamie Malonzo of La Salle is eyed as the top selection for AMA, as the Titans will be picking at no. 1 for the fourth straight year.

Its past selections include Jeron Teng (2017), Owen Graham (2018), and Joshua Munzon (2019).

The 6-foot-6 high-flyer M endoza is the prime choice for AMA Online Education after the Fil-Am forward’s stints in Portland State and in La Salle this past UAAP season, where he was named as a part of the Mythical Team.

This will be the fourth straight year coach Mark Herrera and the Titans own the pole position in the annual rookie selection, which is the first step for aspirants before making it to the PBA.

Past top selections from AMA include Jeron Teng (2017), Owen Graham (2018), and Joshua Munzon (2019).

Aside from Malonzo, also seen to be picked early are Gilas pool member Jaydee Tungcab, and former youth stars Jollo Go and Jerie Pingoy, as well as Cebuano standouts Darrell Menina and Jaybie Mantilla.

The rookie pool consists of 137 applicants, including 17 Fil-foreigners.

However, it will be a tall task for these neophytes to be chosen as 11 of the 12 teams in the upcoming Aspirants’ Cup are school-based teams.

Foundation Cup runner-up Marinerong Pilipino will pick second, followed by Aspirants Cup bridesmaid Centro Escolar University.