There's no way to go but up for Marinerong Pilipino.
Buoyed by their runner-up finish in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup last October, Marinerong Pilipino is hoping to finally win the elusive title in the coming Aspirant’s Cup beginning Feb. 13.
The Skippers now have the experience, the cohesion and the talent needed to win it all.
Ask Marinerong Pilipino assistant coach Jonathan Banal
“We’re a better team now (compared to the Foundation Cup last year). The players and the coaches have learned our lessons and know what to do now to finally win the title,” said Banal during the 52nd “Usapang Sports” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila.
Banal, who represented head coach Yong Garcia, claimed the Skippers are working doubly hard to form a competitive team in time for the opening of the 12-team tournament next month.
“Sa tingin ko, mas handa, mas malakas ang team namin ngayon kumpara last year,” explained Banal, who was accompanied by 6'10” Fil-Australian recruit James Laput and former UCBL MVP Jayboy Solis during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club, PAGCOR, Community Basketball Association and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drinks.
“Talagang puspusan ang paghahanda namin ngayon, lalo na puro mga school-based teams na matagal nang magkakasama, ang makakalaban namin ngayon. Iba yung challenge para sa team ngayon,” added Banal, who also played for Mapua in the NCAA and Wang’s Ballclub in the PBA D-League
Ready to step up for Marinerong Pilipino are Laput and Solis.
“I’m ready to do whatever I can to contribute to the team’s success,” said Laput, the 23-year-old center who played briefly for De La Salle University in the UAAP.
“”My goal is to play in the PBA, so I plan to apply for the draft (in December 2020). But for now, I want to learn a lot and polish my skills with Marinerong Pilipino,” added Laput, who was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia to Filipino parents from Bulacan and Caloocan.
Laput, who moved to the US when he was 18 and played for Division II school Young Harris College, hopes the experience of playing under coaches Garcia and Banal will help him hone his skills.
“Let’s see come February,” said Laput when asked what he can bring to Marinerong Pilipino.
Solis, who was adjudged MVP while playing for Olivarez College in the UCBL, hopes the team’s combination of youth and experience will work in their favor.
“We are working very hard right now to get ourselves ready for the coming D-League,” said Solis, who averaged 22.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 3.5 blocks in winning the MVP award and leading the Sea Lions to the 2019 UCBL finals.
Aside from Laput and Solis, Marinerong Pilipino will also parade high-flying Jamie Malonzo, the No. 2 pick overall in last Monday’s PBA D-League draft pick.
Malonzo, the 6'6” player from Portland State in the United States, played for La Salle for a one-and-done season during UAAP Season 82.
Also taken in by MarinerongPilipino in the draft are Joshua Torralba and Jollo Go of La Salle, James Spencer of University of the Philippines, Darrell Menina of University of Cebu, and Miguel Gastador of University of San Jose-Recoletos.
Last October, Marinerong Pilipino reached the finals of the PBA D-League, but lost to BRT Sumisip Basilan-St Clare College in the championship.
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