April 25, 2023

Aspirants' Cup fires off Thursday

ITS all systems go for the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup with high expectations of a level playing field among the seven participating teams slated to duke it out on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

From an original cast of eight teams, the D-League has been reduced to seven squads but the excitement and anticipation remain the same, with all of them sharing the same goal of ruling the country's premier amateur league.

Reigning champion EcoOil-La Salle,now under the watch of debuting mentor Topex Robinson, headlines the 7-team cast. The other participants are Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, three-peat NCAA champion Wangs Basketball @27 Striker-Letran, Centro Escolar U, AMA Online, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and new team Philippine Sports Performance (PSP).

"Collegiate teams are beefing up their line-ups in preparation for their mother leagues so maganda for sure ang games," said PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Conference Hall on Tuesday.

"We expect exciting games as this is part of their development and preparation. 'Yun ang kagandahan ng collegiate teams, especially they're parading new players."

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La Salle begins its title defense against CEU at 4 p.m. after San Beda's outing against PSP at 2 p.m.

The top two seeds of the elims earn outright semis tickets while the third and fourth-ranked teams gain twice-to-beat bonus against the No. 5 and No. 6 squads in the quarterfinals. Bottom team gets an early boot.

The semis and the finals will be a best-of-three series.

Games will be televised live on One Sports and PBA Rush. (JBU)