D-League: This time, it won’t be easy for the defending titlists

February 11, 2019

Go for Gold-CSB coach Charles Tiu knows that the ascent back to the top of the PBA D-League mountain is going to be harder the second time around.

“It will be a tough climb for us to win the championship again,” he admitted.

The Scratchers won the Foundation Cup last year with just six teams in the running.

This time, though, 20 teams make up the field, making the squad’s title- retention dreams all the more difficult.

Tiu said preparation for the coming season hasn’t been the most smooth-sailing with players going down with illnesses and injuries ahead of the Feb. 14 curtain-raiser.

“We ve been getting injured a lot, players are getting sick and it hurt our preparation,” he said.

Despite the hardships, the youthful mentor remains optimistic about their campaign, knowing that Go for Gold-CSB knows what it takes to hoist the crown once again.

“The fact that we have a whole team intact, I think malaking bagay yun. We’re looking at this as a stepping stone for the NCAA,” he said.

Justin Gutang banners the squad made up of the core from the St. Benilde Blazers, while also bringing in sweet-shooting Fil-Am Roosevelt Adams in the fray.

“I think it’s gonna be a big challenge for him,” said Tiu of Gutang, who will be the heart and soul of the Scratchers.

“Before, nobody knew him. Now, na-scout na siya and he’s a marked man. It’s gonna be a real test for him. Hopefully, we improved his skills. I think he’ll be even better, but he has to mature also as a person and as a player.”

Tiu, however, emphasized that the pressured to deliver will be shared by the whole team as it tries to make it to the top four of the Aspirants’ Group.

“I know a lot of teams are counting us out and don’t even expect us to be playoff contenders, but we’re gonna do our best,” he said.

Go for Gold-CSB opens its campaign against Cignal-Ateneo on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.