CAGAYAN remains optimistic abouts its chances in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup despite losing top star Moala Tautuaa as the Rising Suns enter a new era after a tie-up with restaurant and bar chain Gerry’s.
Now called Cagayan Gerry’s, the Rising Suns hope to remain a title contender with a roster that had to be rejigged after Tautuaa, the team’s No. 1 pick last conference, decided to sign with Cebuana Lhuillier for the Foundation Cup.
“Nakatulong naman si Mo sa amin nung dumating siya,” said assistant coach Nonoy Bonleon during the team’s launch on Friday at the Gerry’s Plus restaurant at the University of the Philippines Town Center in Quezon City.
“Last conference, wala rin si Mo in our first three games pero okay naman ‘yung naging outcome ng team. Maganda rin naman pinakita ng mga ibang players,” Bonleon added.
The Rising Suns, the runner-up to Hapee in the Aspirants Cup, currently hold a 1-1 record following a heartbreaking 106-107 loss to MP Hotel-Letran on Thursday clinched by Rey Nambatac's buzzer-beating three-pointer.
But Cagayan Gerry’s guard Abel Galliguez said the Rising Suns will definitely bounce back after the sorry defeat.
“It’s a learning experience. It opened our eyes that we just have to make defensive stops, make extra passes, and move the ball better. Our offense was stagnant," said Galliguez, one of the players from the Rising Suns that could possibly apply for the PBA draft this year.
“That’s one of the adjustments we have to make. With Mo, it’s easy to throw it there (at the post) and watch him score. Ngayon, kailangang mag-adjust.”
The absence of Tautuaa didn’t stop Gerry’s from inking a tie-up with Cagayan, a longtime dream for the company.
“Naging totoo na finally,” said Gerry’s owner Jerome Ngo, whose company has been sponsoring PBA D-League and collegiate teams in the past but had not owned a team until now. “Hopefully, tuluy-tuloy na ‘to.”
Ngo, a basketball enthusiast himself, said Gerry’s was enticed to have a tie-up with Cagayan since the Rising Suns are very competitive since joining the developmental league in 2011.
“Since the start, nandyan lagi ang Cagayan. Competitive lagi. ‘Yan ang gusto natin sa Gerry’s na laging lumalaban,” said Ngo.
“Nakita sa Cagayan na palaban ‘yung team,” Gerry’s senior marketing manager Francis Villaluz said. “Malay mo, mag-champion ang team this year because of this partnership. Hopefully, mag-click ‘yung partnership.”