Just when we all thought there was just going to be one PBA D-League conference this year, a new one has begun. That means more basketball for everyone! The Foundation Cup tipped off last Thursday with Asia's Lashes, TIP and BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare taking wins on opening day. Here are five storylines to look forward to in the new tournament.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CEU?
One of the most exciting storylines in the brand new tournament is the return of last conference's runners-up. After facing controversy midway through last conference, CEU made it all the way to the Finals and won one game over eventual champions Cignal-Ateneo while playing with a lineup of eight guys. Among his eight, Coach Derrick Pumaren only regularly used seven. It was an unbelievable feat. Pumaren's roster for the Foundation Cup has more players and if they were able to accomplish that much with a diminished lineup, it should be exciting to see what they can do with a more complete roster.
HOW FAR CAN ST. CLARE GO?
St. Clare was one of CEU's victims last conference. The Saints had clear advantage in the semifinals against a team of eight. But the Scorpions found a way to win and eliminated St. Clare. Before they were purged though, the defending NAASCU champions showed a lot of promise. Behind players like Joshua Fontanilla, Junjie Hallare and Irven Palencia, the team racked up wins and became one of the more successful teams in the league. They just keep on getting better - as a team and as individual players. Can they finally get to the Finals? Can they finally win it all? This conference could be the time that they do.
THE RISE OF AARON BLACK
Aaron Black opted to give up his last playing year in the UAAP to train in the United States in preparation for his professional basketball career. After training overseas, he now makes his next step towards the PBA by playing in the D-League. Black's debut in the Foundation Cup showed the products of his training abroad. Despite losing to Asia's Lashes in their opener, Black turned heads with a triple-double debut. He registered 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. If that wasn't enough of an introduction, I don't know what is.
THE ARRIVAL OF JUN MANZO
Another guy to watch for is Jun Manzo. The feisty guard of the UP Fighting Maroons was drafted before the start of the season by Diliman College. However, he never suited up for them. He debuted for Alberei Kings this tournament in their loss to St. Clare, but Manzo led his team with 18 points. The young guard is someone we expect to see in the PBA someday. That's why we have to watch out for him as early as now. The experience he'll gain in the D-League will only further his skill and this is something he'll hope to bring to the UAAP.
A bunch of veterans and ex-pros are also looking to make waves in the Foundation Cup. Jonas Villanueva reunites with former teammate Jerwin Gaco in iWalk. They are also joined by one-time Meralco Bolt and D-League champion Allan Mangahas. The Hyperwash Vipers also banner their own ex-pro duo in Jeric Fortuna and Ryan Buenafe. Magi Sison will play for Black Mamba while Reil Cervantes is with the Alberei Kings. These veterans are out to show the young ones what it takes to make it to the big league.