Marinero Skippers aim for big Aspirants’ Cup splash

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    WHILE waiting for some of its key players to finish their commitments in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan tilt, Marinerong Pilipino coach Yong Garcia is convinced that his squad has what it takes in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup kicking off on March 2 at the Paco Arena in Manila.

    The Skippers bolstered their line-up with the addition of University of the Philippines standouts, brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, joining forward Joshua Munzon, this year’s No. 1 pick overall, in their title bid.

    “We’re doing okay. Nag-commit na iyong Gomez de Liano brothers sa amin. Sila Mark Yee, Gab Banal, Jun Manzo, and Joshua Torralba, tatapusin muna nila iyong MPBL duties nila before they could join us,” Garcia told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday. “Sa ngayon, almost complete na ang line-up namin.”

    After AMA Senior High passed up on the 6-foot-6 Malonzo for homegrown playmaker Reed Baclig, Marinerong Pilipino tabbed the high-flying Malonzo as the second pick in last month’s draft.

    Garcia said the Fil-Am Malonzo and 6-foot-9 Fil-Australian center James Laput, also another former Green Archer, are proving their worth with the Skippers.

    “So far, maganda ang performance ni Malonzo sa tune-up games namin. Hindi lang si Malonzo, pati si James Laput,” explained Garcia.

    “Actually, malaki ang potential ni Laput na maging successful sa pros.”

    With his charges set to do battle with mostly school-based squads, Garcia admitted that having a club team is both a boon and bane.

    “Ang advantage namin is puwede kaming kumuha ng big-name players kasi hindi kami school-based,” said Garcia.

    “Ang problem lang, we need to develop chemistry kasi iyong school-based teams, isipin mo two or three years na silang mag-kakasama.”

    The season-opening tourney was scheduled to get going last Feb. 13 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig but was reset due to the threat posed by the deadly coronavirus.

    That’s just fine with Garcia.

    “Malaking bagay na na-move ang opening,” he said.

    “Ngayon nga lang kami halos na-kumpleto. At least we have time to build on our chemistry.”

    Aside from Marinerong Pilipino, defending NCAA champion Letran, which will carry the colors of Wangs-Letran, Builders Warehouse-University of Santo Tomas, and the Titans headline the field.

    The rest include Karate Kid-Centro Escolar University, Apex Fuel Mindanao-San Sebastian College, SEAOIL-Far Eastern University, Diliman College, Technological Institute of the Philippines, Family Mart-Enderun Colleges, and newcomers EcoOil-La Salle and Mapua University.