WIN no. 3 is what Cignal-Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas are gunning for when they clash on Thursday in the 2019 PBA D-League at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The UAAP rivals have been nothing short of impressive in the early goings of the tourney, making this Aspirants Group duel at 2 p.m. the must-see attraction in this loaded triple-header gameday.
Thirdy Ravena is set to make his PBA D-League debut for the Blue Eagles after playing with Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The high-flying winger will reunite with Matt Nieto, Isaac Go, and Ivorian center Ange Kouame, who have held the fort for Cignal-Ateneo in its first two games, most recently in its 82-68 win over Family Mart-Enderun last Feb. 25.
But for coach Tab Baldwin, he maintains his stance in using this campaign as a chance for his wards to prove themselves worthy of their spots in the team.
"This is more just pure competition than a real team performance for our guys. We get to observe how our players compete. We can work on a lot of individual talents against these teams," said Baldwin.
Growling Tigers coach Aldin Ayo is also using the game as gauge on how ready his crew is for the challenge of the top teams.
"Against Ateneo, susukatin lang namin kung hanggang saan na yung narating namin. We're just going to do our best. Right now kasi I can say Ateneo is the best collegiate team that we have right now," he said after fending off AMA, 113-108 last week.
"Good opportunity for us na makalaban sila this early. At least malalaman namin kung hanggang saan yung nararating namin. It will be a good game for us."
Rookie Mark Nonoy has been a revelation for UST, as Ayo has also drawn solid outings from new recruits Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rhenz Abando.
St. Clare College-Virtual Reality and Che'Lu Bar and Grill will serve as the curtain-raiser at 12 p.m., with both teams seeking to go up 2-0, while Family Mart-Enderun and Go for Gold-CSB are in the hunt for their first win when they juke it out at 4 p.m.