Title favorites Cafe France, Tanduay engage in early collision course in D-League opening week

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Expect some more early fireworks in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

Starting off with Jeron Teng's much anticipated league debut, the potential wildness of the tournament spills to Day 2 on Jan. 23 as Cafe France-CEU and Tanduay, two teams tagged as favorites to win it all, battle it out.

The Bakers and the Rhum Masters, who both made the finals of the two conferences last year, collide in the main game of the scheduled doubleheader at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig at 5 p.m.

With the Phoenix Accelerators, who beat both squads to accomplish the grand slam last year, opting to take a breather this year for the fuel company to focus on the Fuel Masters' PBA campaign, both the Bakers and the Rhum Masters are tipped to go deep to the conference, and their showdown will serve as a barometer on whether they have what it takes to win it all.

The first game of the Jan. 23 twinbill is also compelling as Racal, the other team seen by many to have a championship shot, will debut against Blu-Malaysia at 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, two NCAA teams will begin their own D-League quest the day after also at the Pasig venue.

JRU will take on Blu-Malaysia at 3 p.m., while Cignal-San Beda will battle AMA at 5 p.m.

The other two teams in the tournament, Victoria-MLQU and Wangs, will lock horns on Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. also at the Ynares Sports Arena.

Meanwhile, the D-League will also hold games at the JCSGO Gym in Quezon City beginning with a Feb. 2 doubleheader headlined by the AMA-Tanduay game featuring Teng and Jom Sollano, the first two picks of the draft, at 5 p.m., succeeding the Cignal-Wangs match at 3 p.m.

Couples looking for a unique Valentine date can make the PBA D-League an option as the league will hold games right on Valentine's Night with Racal and Tanduay battling each other at 5 p.m. right after the Wangs-Cafe France clash.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno