MANILA, Philippines—Cebuana Lhuillier’s improved roster takes a litmus test on Monday in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup as the Gems battle the Café France Bakers in a match-up between two losing semifinalists last conference at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.
The Gems, who lost to the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns in the deciding Game 3 of their semifinal series, look interesting with their acquisition of the high-leaping Jackson Corpuz, 3-points artist Roider Cabrera and veteran Mark Acosta.
The trio provides inside and outside threat for the Gems, who should figure prominently in the title race with its well-balanced roster
But whether Cebuana Lhuillier coach Boyzie Zamar could maximize the potential of his team will be under close watch in their 3 p.m. encounter against the Bakers, who defeated the Gems, in overtime in their only meeting in the eliminations last conference.
Café France coach Egay Macaraya readily admitted that the Gems enjoy an advantage in terms of bench depth. “But we should be good as long as we play solid,” he noted.
Macaraya injuries to his key players “could be a big factor in our game against Cebuana.”
In the first game at 1 o’clock, Tanduay Light faces a Jumbo Plastic that also underwent a makeover after a disappointing campaign last conference.
With practically the same line-up under his disposal, Tanduay Light coach Lawrence Chongson believes the Rhum Masters can compete on even footing against the league’s elite teams.
“Our chemistry issues last conference should have improved by now. Except for the inclusion of Joseph Eriobu and Joseph dela Paz, my team stays the same so I believe we are ready to compete against powerhouse teams like Jumbo. Our new found chemistry should be able to carry us and somehow negate whatever disadvantages we have as far as manpower is concerned,” Chongson said.
The Giants, who lost to the Gems in the quarterfinals, added size and fire power by acquiring frontliners Joseph Gabayni and Tristan Perez and guards Jawhar Purdy and Glenn Khobuntin.
“We hope to remain competitive with our new line-up,” said Jumbo Plastic coach Stevenson Tiua, who expects the team to finish among the top seeds.