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Kevin Quiambao out of La Salle lineup for PBA D-League

Reigning champion La Salle-Ecooil and favored Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda loom as heavy favorites as they kick off the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup against separate opponents on Thursday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

The Green Archers will start their three-peat bid in the main game at 7:30 PM. against the new squad CCI-Yengskivel.

This follows the curtain raiser at 4:30 PM featuring last season’s runners-up Red Lions against Go Torrakku-St. Clare.

Although MVP Kevin Quiambao is not listed for the Green Archers, they will still field the core of their championship team from last year – both in the UAAP and the D-League – led by hulking slotman Mike Phillips.

UAAP 3×3 MVP CJ Austria, Earl Abadam, Joshua David, Raven Cortez, and Jonnel Policarpio are also in the fray as Coach Topex Robinson’s wards deal with the graduation of top guards Evan Nelle and Mark Nonoy, as well as captain Ben Phillips.

EcoOil-La Salle dominated the last two seasons of the D-League and is poised to complete a hat-trick despite the expected strong resistance from the six-team opposition.

Their first tests come in the form of the Crusaders, who aim to make a strong introduction as the new franchise in the D-League, with head coach Arwin Villmor Adina leading the way.

However, the spotlight is also on Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, aiming to avenge their tough finale defeat to EcoOil-La Salle.

In pursuit of this goal, the Red Lions rely on their stellar championship run in the NCAA, hoping to translate it to success in the PBA’s developmental ranks.

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Coach Yuri Escueta banks on an almost intact core, led by NCAA Finals MVP James Payosing, Jomel Puno, Aaron James Royo, and Yukien Andrada.

While the Red Lions will miss ace guard Jacob Cortez, who transferred to La Salle and will redshirt, they have prized acquisitions in Bryan Sajonia (from FEU), RC Calimag (from UP), and Penny Estactio (from La Salle) to rely on.

However, seasoned tactician Jinino Manansala and his St. Clare unit vow to give the NCAA kings a run for their money.

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