Without a doubt, Boyet Fernandez is the king of the PBA D-League.
Fernandez is the most decorated head coach in the history of the second league. He has won a total of eight championships – six with the NLEX Road Warriors, and two with the Cignal HD Hawkeyes.
And throughout all those campaigns, his teams have had stacked lineups that could match even some PBA squads.
But for the 2019 PBA D-League tournament, Fernandez will not have ex-pros like Pamboy Raymundo or Samboy de Leon. Neither will he have super seniors who are regarded as easy first rounders in the PBA Rookie Draft, such as Ronald Pascual, Kevin Alas, Robert Bolick, or Javee Mocon.
Instead, the Metro Pacific-San Beda Movers feature a young team, with AC Soberano and Clint Doliguez at the fore. Also part of the squad are underclassmen led by the backcourt duo of James Canlas and Evan Nelle.
With a youthful squad, Fernandez’s team will – for the first time – not be seen as the heavy favorites for the upcoming season. But for him, this is a necessary campaign to boost the confidence and skill set of the Red Lions.
“Sa amin talagang mas okay sa’min ‘to kasi kailangan kong i-fast track yung maturity ng players ko, especially Evan. [Prince] Etrata has been playing well and Peter Alfaro. We need that energy kasi sila yung mga bata,” shared Fernandez.
“Alam naman natin na nandyan si Clint, si James, si AC. Pero kailangan ko talaga yung suporta ng mga rookies ko especially Evan.”
Fernandez will also use this campaign to gauge where they are in their preparations for the upcoming NCAA Season 95 tournament. After all, rivals like the Perpetual Altas, Petron-Letran Knights, and Go-for-Gold-CSB Scratchers will be competing in the tourney.
“Yung D-League kasi is our preparation for the NCAA. I saw other teams who really improved a lot last year because of the league like Letran, Perpetual, Saint Benilde, and Lyceum,” he said.
“Sa tingin ko parang ganun din kami ngayon, na puro bata. So this will be a good opportunity for us to prepare our talent and ourselves for the NCAA.”