The PBA D-League is set for another season of exciting basketball action. This season a total of 20 teams, 15 of which are school-based squads, will be competing in the tournament scheduled to open on Thursday.
ESPN5 writers Jutt Sulit and Yoyo Sarmenta list down 10 players who people should keep tabs on in the PBA D-League. This is Part 1.
Team: AMA Online Education
As the first overall pick in the recent D-League draft, all eyes will be on Munzon as he starts his journey to the PBA. The situation is perfect for him as enters a team that has been needing player that can serve as the centerpiece of the squad.
Munzon is a proven scorer who brings with him international experience at the professional level. In two seasons he played in the Asean Basketball League, he averaged 21.9 points per game while playing against imports. He perfectly pairs his outside shooting with an ability to penetrate the paint and can even put defenders on posters.
Team: Che'lu Bar and Grill
Manganti would have been in the PBA by now if he was not one D-League game short of draft eligibility. Instead, he returns for one more season to serve as a nightmare to opponents and a blessing to his new teammates. How he will perform outside the Adamson systemis going to be Manganti's biggest test this season.
The lengthy forward was a major piece in Akari-Adamson's run for the top seed in last year's Aspirants' Cup. He was also a big contributor in the Soaring Falcons' Final Four push in UAAP Season 81. He fit in seamlessly into Coach Franz Pumaren's system. Under a new team, a new coach and with new teammates, will he be as effective?
Team: Marinerong Pilipino
It will be strange seeing Asistio in a shade of blue lighter that Ateneo's royal. It will be stranger to see him play against the Blue Eagles if and when they do meet. But that's the situation now for Asistio as he tries to make his climb towards the PBA.
In a league packed with highly offensive guards, he will be out to display is relentlessness on the defensive end. His motor puts him on a pedestal. He can pester an opponent from baseline to baseline for an entire game. That's not to say that he cannot help out on offense. Asistio hit more than a handful of big shots for Ateneo throughout his UAAP career.
Look for this guy to inject tenacity into Marinerong Pilipino.
Team: Go For Gold - CSB
There was very little fuss when Adams was picked by Go For Gold in the sixth round of the D-League draft. Many were not too familiar with him and as many barely cared. However, it only took a short stint with Mighty Sports in Dubai for Adams to introduce himself to Philippine basketball. In seven games, he averaged 12.4 points while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.
His height and his excellent touch from outside makes him a one of the most interesting talents in the D-League. What's left to see is how he can adjust to the physicality and how he will be able to defend. With his size and agility, he should be able to guard multiple positions.
Team: Petron - Letran
Many said that Pasaol was already PBA ready. Some even said that if he joined the draft, he would have been a first round selection. But he was still enjoying the scoring spree he was having in the amateurs, so he opted to stay another year.
Pasaol is coming off another UAAP Mythical Five selection after norming 24.4 points and 11.0 rebounds in Season 81. Gaudy numbers. However, it's hard to expect him to bring those into the D-League as he joins Petron-Letran. With a bunch of talented guys in that Letran core, including Larry Muyang, Jeo Ambohot and returning Jerrick Balanza, Pasaol is not expected to carry as heavy a load as he did with the UE Red Warriors. But he'll find a way to help. To score. He always does.