THE PBA D-League Aspirants Cup has yet to get off the ground, yet defending champion NLEX is already asking for some leeway as far as the team’s playing schedule in December is concerned.
Team manager Ronald Dulatre bared to Spin.ph that NLEX may need a break in December when at least six Road Warriors may be tapped to play for the national team to the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
Dulatre listed the six as Kevin Louie Alas, Garvo Lanete, Matt Ganuelas, Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual, and RR Garcia.
“Most of our players kasi kasama pa rin dun sa Gilas cadets, and they will be representing the country on the biennial meet,” said Dulatre.
“We already told the commissioner (Chito Salud) about it, kasi yung SEA Games is set December 12 to 21, so nasa kalagitnaan ng conference yun,” added the amiable NLEX boss.
Dulatre added he has long informed D-League tournament supervisor Eric Castro of the team’s request to give the Road Warriors a short break for the duration of the SEA Games.
“Nag-request na kami na sana huwag kami ma-schedule ng ganung time. And we are optimistic, mapapagbigyan kami. Eric told us they will consider it kasi para naman sa bayan ito eh,” said Dulatre.
“Hindi naman mahaba ang break na hinihingi namin sa schedule. Our players are willing to sacrifice,” said the NLEX official who added the Gilas players are willing to practice with the Road Warriors in the morning and with the national team in the evening.
The Aspirants Cup begins on October 24 and Dulatre believes defending the crown the Road Warriors have won twice before will be a tougher task this season.
“Mas mabigat talaga ang labanan ngayon, tapos this season we decided to go school-based,” said the team manager, who will combine the six Gilas cadet members with the core of NCAA champion team San Beda Red Lions.
“Hindi simple ang challenge ngayon. Nakikita naman natin San Beda will face other tough teams from the UAAP and the best amateur teams in the country,” he said.
NLEX was tipped to win its fifth straight D-League championship last conference until Blackwater Sports pulled through a stunning upset in the last Foundation Cup finals.