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The Noob's Guide to the PBA D-League Finals

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

IT'S down to two.

Cafe France-CEU and Phoenix-FEU found themselves battling each other for the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup championship in the best-of-five finals starting Thursday. So in this special Game Analysis column, which will start a series of posts with the similar concept, I'm gonna give the first-time fans of the D-League what they will expect in this finals series. By the way, I have to apologize for using "noob" in the headlines, but you should have got my point.

1. This is a best-of-five affair.

Like its de facto predecessor, the PBL, the D-League will go for a best-of-five championship series with this one unlike the previous editions which were best-of-three affairs. But as they say, "The more, the merrier."

2. Two college powerhouses collide.

The PBA D-League allows teams from certain schools to put up their contingents to the league as long as at least six players from their teams the previous college basketball season will be enlisted. The Bakers, although being one of the charter D-League clubs, only brought in the key players of the CEU Scorpions recently, and the "college-basedness" finally bore fruit when they won last year's Foundation Cup, beating another college-based team in the Hapee-San Beda Fresh Fighters. The championship feels would spill to the CESAFI as CEU retained the league title. Speaking of Hapee, it was Ronnie Magsanoc, who actually steered San Beda to the 2013 NCAA title before resigning just afterward, who called the shots for the team and neither then incumbent mentor Boyet Fernandez, who remained his head coaching job at NLEX after it elevated to the PBA from the D-League, nor Jamike Jarin. The similar case can also be seen at the Phoenix-FEU side. While Nash Racela is listed as the Tamaraws' coach in the UAAP, it is his assistant, Coach Eric Gonzales, who is enlisted as the Accelerators' mentor (Racela is listed as a consultant). On the other hand, while the magic number is six, Phoenix-FEU decided to bring in more, taking nine from the 2015 UAAP champion team including graduating stars Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, and RR Pogoy. Leaving some room open for non-Tams to join paved the way for the signing of UST's Ed Daquioag, former FEU player Gryann Mendoza, and recently, former Barako Bull (which actually sold its franchise to Phoenix) player Yutien Andrada.

3. A literally free finals basketball

And finally, the accessibility of the championship series to the fans. Guess what, this is free basketball... in the literal sense. Admission to the venue, whether the Ynares Sports Arena, where Game 1 will take place, or the FilOil Flying V Centre is free from start to finish whether it will go to the figurative free basketball, that is, the overtime period, or not. So why wait for the delayed TV broadcast when you can watch the championship live for free? Come to the venue and cheer your lungs out for Cafe France and Phoenix-FEU.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno