Knights, Green Archers clash in Aspirants’ opener

WANG’S, composed of standouts from reigning NCAA champion Letran, plays EcoOil-La Salle today as the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup opens shop at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Tip-off is 2 p.m. right after an hour-long opening ceremonies that will usher the developmental league’s 10th season.

Marinerong Pilipino takes on Karate Kid-Centro Escolar University in the day’s other game at 4 p.m.

In their first major off-season tournament since winning the NCAA title last November, the Knights will unveil a formidable frontline in Larry Muyang, Christian Fajarito, Jeo Ambohot and Ato Ular, with Fran Yu and Allen Mina providing offensive firepower.

The season-opening conference will mark the Green Archers’ debut of Derrick Pumaren, who made his return as the team’s head coach last January.

Pumaren is expected to count on holdovers Justin Baltazar, Aljun Melecio, Encho Serrano, and 6-foot-11 Senegal national Amadou Ndiaye in their bid to make immediate impact.

Now on its fourth season in the D-League, the Skippers are hoping to go all the way this time. Marinerong Pilipino lost to BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare in the Finals last conference.

The Skippers retooled their roster by acquiring brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Jamie Malonzo and James Laput.

Jeff Napa, meanwhile, took over the coaching chores from Pumaren for the Scorpions, a perennial D-League playoff contender.

Karate Kid-CEU has lost Senegalese Malick Diouf, but Napa still has a lot of talents to depend on including Rich Guinitaran, Kurt Sanga, Jerome Santos and Franz Diaz.

Reinforcing the Scorpions are Justin Arana, Jerie Pingoy, Jeremiah Taladua and David Murell.

Completing the 12-team field are Builders Warehouse-UST, SeaOil-Far Eastern University, Diliman College, Mapua, Family Mart-Enderun, Apex Fuel-SSC-R, Technological Institute of the Philippines and AMA Online Education.