Former pro JR Cawaling tapped to lead Mindanao Aguilas in D-League Foundation Cup
It will be the second D-League tournament for the Aguilas and they hope to get an immediate boost from JR Cawaling. Jerome Ascano

JR CAWALING will reinforce the Topstar ZC Mindanao Aguilas in their campaign in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup slated to open on Thursday.

Cawaling, who traces his roots to Cagayan de Oro, will be joined by several other players from Mindanao as the Aguilas play their second D-League tournament.

Zamboanga players Gino Jumao-as and Dexter Garcia, cousin of PBA cager RR Garcia, will suit up for the Aguilas as they look to improve on their one-win stint in the Aspirants Cup.

Team manager Sergei Bien Orillo also expects support from the Mindanao fans through the television coverage of the games.

“The team is very popular in Mindanao especially in Zamboanga City. Maraming nanonood ng D-League sa Aksyon TV kapag Mindanao Aguilas ang naglalaro kasi ‘yung mga players galing talaga sa Mindanao. Nabibigyan sila ng opportunity na makalaro sa ibang level,” said Orillo.

“Ang purpose talaga ng team is mabigyan ng opportunity ‘yung mga tiga-Mindanao kasi alam naman natin na maraming magagaling diyan,” he added.

The Aguilas got some boost in morale ahead of the Foundation Cup, finishing second to a Manny Pacquiao-led team in the Manny Pacquiao national basketball league.

The squad will be coached by Jade Padrigao, a former Ateneo de Zamboanga team captain and now assistant coach of the Adamson juniors basketball squad.

The Aguilas will open their campaign on Thursday against CafeFrance at 2 p.m. at the Ynares Arena in Pasig.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports