THIRDY Ravena and Joshua Munzon lead the fresh blood taking their act to the 2019 PBA D-League wars starting on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Ravena, the high-flying second-generation star, will lead the flight for Cignal-Ateneo in the UAAP champions' first ever try in the developmental ranks, while Munzon, the much-talked about Fil-Am prospect who was taken first overall in the past draft, now leads AMA Online Education.
The two expect a fierce race to the top.
"I can't wait for the competition kasi bagong experience yun, bagong level, bagong platform for all of us, not just for me but the whole team. I can't wait to play in the D-League," said Ravena.
He will be joined by Isaac Go, Matt Nieto and Ivorian slotman Ange Kouame in the Hawkeyes camp, to be coached by former Gilas Pilipinas mentor Tab Baldwin.
Munzon echoed those sentiments, saying: "I'm ready to show what I can do and like I said previously, be the best player that I can be."
Teaming up with him in the Titans camp are fellow rookies Kib Montalbo from La Salle and Troy Rike from NU.
Also in the field are Foundation Cup champion Go for Gold-CSB, which will lean on Cameroonian big man Clement Leutcheu, together with Fil-Ams Justin Gutang and Roosevelt Adams, both of whom are fresh from their Mighty Sports stint in the 2019 Dubai International Basketball Tournament with coach Charles Tiu.
Also out to make a name for himself is Adamson forward Sean Manganti, who is tasked to bring Che'Lu Bar and Grill back in title contention alongside Foundation Cup MVP Jeff Viernes and veteran bruiser JayR Taganas.
UE super scorer Alvin Pasaol also brings his wit to Petron-Letran, where he'll be backed up by NCAA Season 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang and the returning Jerrick Balanza.
High school sensation Mark Nonoy will make history as the youngest player to enter the PBA D-League at 18 for UST, where he'll be playing with the backcourt combo of Renzo Subido and Marvin Lee.
Batangas-EAC will lean on the duo of Cedric de Joya and JP Maguliano, while Malian center Mohammed Pare and Junjie Hallare will steer the ship for St. Clare College Virtual Reality.
Ex-pros are also out to make noise with Ogie Menor teaming up with Jerick Canada and Jason Melano in McDavid, and Fonzo Gotladera and Marvin Hayes linking up for Family Mart-Enderun.
In the Foundation Group, it's the trio of James Canlas, AC Soberano, and Clint Doliguez which will lead the fight for the Metro Pac-San Beda as coach Boyet Fernandez seeks his ninth PBA D-League title.
Second overall pick Santi Santillan is also looking to sustain his groove from La Salle as he teams up with Ateneo sniper Anton Asistio in Marinerong Pilipino.
Arvin Tolentino is also set to carry the load for Wangs Basketball, where he'll link up with former FEU teammate Axel Inigo and UP center Gelo Vito.
The rest of the Tamaraws, on the other hand, will be carrying the name of Cha Dao-FEU as they count on Ken Tuffin, Wendell Comboy, and Hubert Cani to take the lead.
Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan is expected to be the 1-2 punch for the Valencia City Bukidnon-San Sebastian, as Rich Guinitaran and Judel Fuentes lead CEU.
Ben Adamos and Keith Pido will finally get their chance to don the Perpetual colors, Diliman College-Gerry's Grill will be following the lead of UP's Jun Manzo and San Beda's Jeramer Cabanag, and The Masterpiece Clothing-Trinity University of Asia banks on the Arellano trio of Ian Alban, Levi dela Cruz, and Michael Canete.
The 20 teams were sliced into two groups of 10 playing a round robin format and the top four teams advancing to the crossover quarterfinals, with the top two on each group holding a twice-to-beat advantage.
Winners of that said series proceed to the best-of-three semifinals and later on, the best-of-five championship round.
The 2019 PBA D-League season opens on Thursday at 1 p.m., with a doubleheader between Cignal-Ateneo facing Go for Gold-CSB at 2 p.m., and Marinerong Pilipino clashing with Valencia City Bukidnon-San Sebastian at 4 p.m.