CEBUANA Lhuillier boosted its D-League title bid on Tuesday by signing up Arnold Van Opstal, bringing another big man to the Gems’ already formidable frontline rotation ahead of the Foundation Cup playoffs.
Head coach Boycie Zamar confirmed that Van Opstal signed a contract with the Gems after the La Salle slotman was relegated to the reserve list by rival Hapee, making him eligible to sign with any team.
“Once na considered reserve, binaba siya sa practice player, available na agad ‘yun,” said Zamar, adding Van Opstal is expected to attend his first practice with the Gems on Wednesday.
Incidentally, Van Opstal is expected to make his debut for the Gems in a game against Hapee on May 18.
Van Opstal is set to team up with Moala Tautuaa and Norbert Torres, giving Cebuana Lhuillier a formidable frontline heading into the semifinals where the unbeaten Gems are already assured of a seat.
He will also reunite with former Green Archers teammates Torres and Almond Vosotros. All three belong to the Gilas cadets squad which will see action for the Philippines in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Zamar said Cebuana Lhuillier felt the need to strengthen its lineup to keep pace with other title contenders which have put in key pieces in their rosters.
Recently, Aspirants Cup champion Hapee welcomed the return of the San Beda Red Lions led by Ola Adeogun and Baser Amer while second-running Café France acquired former KIA player Eloy Poligrates.
Zamar admitted acquiring Van Opstal was a move to make the Gems more competitive in the match-ups against a Fresh Fighters’ frontline led by Adeogun and Troy Rosario.
“Nakita naman natin na nagbi-beef up na ‘yung ibang teams. Alam mo naman na ‘yung pagbi-beef up ng Hapee, hindi biro ‘yun. At least, meron kang material and malaking bagay para sa amin si AVO,” said Zamar.
“Quality player acquisition with the likes of Arnold Van Opstal was mandated by Cebuana Lhuillier management,” Zamar added.
Hapee team manager Bernard Yang said the Fresh Fighters respect the decision of Van Opstal, one of the key players in the squad’s title run in the Aspirants Cup.