AT some point in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup playoffs, Hapee Toothpaste will have to make do without five key players from the team that won last conference’s championship.
The Fresh Fighters are already without Bobby Ray Parks and Garvo Lanete. Parks is in the US to pursue his bid to play in the NBA, while Lanete still has to recover from a knee injury he sustained during the finals of the Aspirants Cup against Cagayan Valley.
Three more Hapee players will also not see action in the coming playoffs as Troy Rosario, Scottie Thompson, and Baser Amer will leave for Singapore on June 6 as part of the national team to the 28th Southeast Asian Games.
Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc can only hope the team will be able to survive the absences of the five key players in its quest for a D-League double.
Rosario, Thompson, and Amer, however, may be able to make it to the later stage of the conference provided the team makes it deep into the playoffs.
“Sa dami ng nawala, naguluhan na ako. Nakikita ko na lang sila sa laro. Hindi mo alam kung sino ang dadating. Pero ganun talaga eh. Papawisan ka talaga kasi mahirap,” said Magsanoc.
Hapee just welcomed back San Beda players into its fold, namely Ola Adeogun, Amer, and Art Dela Cruz.
Their presence helped turn things around for the Fresh Fighters, who ended the elimination round with a 6-3 record, good for fourth place and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
By finishing fourth, the Fresh Fighters stand to square off with Café France in the best-of-three semifinals provided they get past their quarterfinal opponent.
“The players made an effort to double their effort pagdating sa laro. Doon na lang kami umaasa. We will be ready kung sino man ang makakaharap namin sa quarterfinals,” said Magsanoc.