Cignal kicks off back-to-back PBA D-League title drive v newcomer Flying V

Cignal opens its bid for a season sweep, while three of the four newcomers make their debut when the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup commences on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Parading virtually a new squad, Hawkeyes coach Boyet Fernandez admitted that it will be a tall order for his side to winning back-to-back championships, especially with the strength of the field this conference.

“This will be a completely different conference for us. It will be another tough conference for us, but we’re all excited,” he said.

Cignal banks once again on Jason Perkins, Pamboy Raymundo and Davon Potts, while also welcoming to its fort hardworking FEU bruiser Raymar Jose and former San Beda playmaker Dan Sara.

Fernandez, however, is bracing for a tough fight in the Hawkeyes’ conference-opener as they take on Flying V in the 5 p.m. game.

“With Jeron Teng in their lineup and coach Eric (Altamirano) coaching the team, this is a very strong and tough matchup for us. But we will be ready,” he said.

Aside from Teng, the Thunder will lean on ex-pros Eric Salamat, Jerick Cañada and Gab Banal to make some noise in its first foray in the developmental league.

In the curtain raiser, Leo Avenido gets his first crack at coaching as he serves his first game as a playing-coach for Gamboa Coffee Mix.

The veteran forward will call the shots for the Coffee Lovers as they face Zark’s Burger in the 3 p.m. tilt.

Joining Avenido in Gamboa are ex-pros Val Acuña, Jens Knuttel and Marcy Arellano.

On the other hand, Robbie Celiz and James Mangahas are tasked to lead the fight for the Jawbreakers.

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