2017 PBA D-League Preview: 4 teams out to make surprises

Head coach Eric Gonzales hopes to guide new team Batangas to a 'decent' campaign in the PBA D-League. PBA IMAGES

Head coach Eric Gonzales hopes to guide new team Batangas to a ‘decent’ campaign in the PBA D-League. PBA IMAGES

Four teams are looking to pull off surprises in the coming 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

After a season sweep with with Phoenix last year, Eric Gonzales is now tasked to steer the ship for newcomer Batangas.

“The opportunity to be at the top is so impossible for us, but what we’re building here is the character and development of the Batangueños. I hope we can be decent and help these players to be at their best,” he said.

Batangas will lean on the duo of college standouts Dan Sara and CJ Isit to lead the team.

Victoria Sports-MLQU, meanwhile, believes it can make the quarterfinals in its first D-League stint.

Coach Jino Manansala feels he has the team which won’t act as pushovers against contenders.

“I can see that there’s a lot of strong teams this conference, but I promise that we’ll make them work,” Manansala said.

San Beda guard Ryusei Koga, Arellano University shooter Zach Nicholls, and Fil-Am forward Robbie Herndon will backstop the squad, which also consists largely of Manansala’s core from Manuel L. Quezon University.

Comebacking Wangs Basketball also eyes to make noise this season.

“I think we have a great chance with our preparation. We started early and we believe that we can compete with the others this year,” said Wangs head coach Pablo Lucas.

Allen Enriquez, Rey Publico, and Mark Juruena will carry the fight for Wangs this conference.

Blustar Detergent returns for another crack, carrying the lessons it learned from its first foray last season.

However, the Malaysians will be bringing in a younger squad flanked by national team player Kwaan Yoong Jing.

Tristan Perez was loaned by PBA affiliate Blackwater to the team, as the Dragons will be coached by Lee Kheng Tian and will be assisted by his deputy Britt Reroma.

The 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup tips off on Jan. 19 with AMA Online Education pitted against Batangas at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.