FIELDING what could possibly be its strongest team to date, Marinerong Pilipino emerges as the favorite to win the crown in the upcoming 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup that’s set to open on Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Skippers coach Koy Banal retooled his roster in the offseason after once again failing to move past the semifinals, enlisting top guards Trevis Jackson and Robbie Manalang in his squad.
Also part of the rejigged Marinero squad are UP forward Javi Gomez de Liano, Fil-Am shooter Kyle Toth, and former pro Hans Thiele.
But it won't be a walk in the park as five other teams are out to deny the Skippers.
Che'Lu Bar and Grill aims to go all the way after finishing as runner-up in the Aspirants' Cup, bringing back Jeff Viernes, Chris Bitoon, and Jordan Sta. Ana.
Paul Desiderio is also back in the fold for Go for Gold, where he will be joined by former Marinerong Pilipino forwards Gab Banal and Vince Tolentino, as well as ex-pro Jerwin Gaco this time out.
Centro Escolar University parades Cameroonian center Gilles Oloume to backstop its local crew bannered by Orlan Wamar, Rich Guinitaran, and Mishaal Veron.
Top draft pick Owen Graham finally makes his debut where he will be tasked to lead the fight for AMA Online Education.
Batangas rounds out the field, as Cedric de Joya will once again serve as the anchor for the upstart group.
A double-round elimination will decide the four teams advancing to the best-of-three semifinals. The finals will be a best-of-five affair.