Games Today
(Ynares Sports Arena)
2 p.m. — Phil. Sports Performance vs Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda
4 p.m. — Centro Escolar University vs EcoOil-De La Salle

TOPEX Robinson’s much-awaited debut for De La Salle University has to wait a little bit.

EcoOil-De La Salle kickstarts its title defense bid without Mr. Robinson for the meantime when it takes on Centro Escolar University (CEU) as the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup unwraps at the Ynares Sports Arena.

Action sizzles at 4 p.m. for the main match after the 2 p.m. duel of Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda University and new club Philippine Sports Performance Gym.

Deputy mentor Gian Nazario will call the shots for the Green Archers for now in place of Mr. Robinson, who’s set to run errands in the United States.

“Coach Gian will handle the team as I’ll be traveling to the (United) States but as I’ve always been saying, our mindset is we will always compete,” said Mr. Robinson, who steered Zark’s Burger-Lyceum to the D-League title in 2018.

Mr. Robinson, after his coaching stint with Phoenix in the PBA, took the coaching reins in Taft earlier this year in lieu of Derrick Pumaren, who towed the team to the Aspirants’ Cup title this year. Leading his wards are veterans Evan Nelle and Mark Nonoy with Gilas Pilipinas’ SEA Games training pool members Kevin Quiambao, and brothers Mike and Ben Phillips.

CEU, meanwhile, will be guided by Jeff Perlas, Mr. Robinson’s former assistant in Lyceum, with Jerom Santos and Franz Ray Diaz at the helm following a 14-0 championship sweep of the UCBL.

In the first match, second-year San Beda coach Yuri Escueta continues the rebuild of his young team following the graduation of key players led by ace gunner James Kwekuteye.

“We still have a new team. Our goal is to compete every game, continue to strengthen our system and apply it in games to prepare us for the upcoming NCAA season,” he said.

Standing in his way is coach John Paolo Lao with ex-PBA players Jonjon Gabriel and Val Acuña at the helm for PSP after a campaign in the Pilipinas Super League for Cagayan De Oro.

PBA stalwarts CJ Perez and Jericho Cruz of San Miguel, with Magnolia’s Jackson Corpuz, are interestingly listed in the coaching staff of PSP, owned by Phoebus Apollo Samson. — John Bryan Ulanday