MANILA, Philippines – Old collegiate rivalries will be put aside in the upcoming PBA D-League season as former Adamson captain Sean Manganti will team up with budding UP superstar Juan Gomez de Liaño in Che'lu Bar and Grill.
The Stevenson Tiu-coached team found their lucky streak in the D-League draft as they selected Manganti with the 4th overall pick while Gomez de Liaño slid all the way down as the 44th selection in the 6th round.
But their luck wasn't done there as they snagged up former FEU point guard Jasper Parker with the 52nd pick in the next round.
For the upcoming season with an unprecedented 20 teams joining the fray, Che'lu can now front an formidable lineup featuring Manganti, Gomez de Liaño and Parker along with key holdovers Jeff Viernes and Jesse Collado.
"He's really our first option. We need a versatile player," said Tiu of the 6-foot-5 Manganti. "He can be a 3 (small forward), or a stretch 4 (power forward). He's very athletic and that's what we're looking for in our players right now."
Tiu likewise raved about the UP Maroons' 6-foot-2 Gomez de Liaño, who went toe-to-toe with Manganti's Adamson Falcons in the sold-out UAAP Season 81 Final Four playoff series.
"We saw how he controlled UP as a leader," he said. "He can score, he can defend. He's very active and he can shoot."
The veteran tactician also gave the same reviews for Parker, who was integral in FEU's run to their sixth-straight playoff appearance last season.
"Now, it's all collegiate teams [in the league]," Chiu continued. "We are a non-collegiate team so we need young bloods who are familiar with the UAAP."
"You know Jeff Viernes is a veteran and has a different game style to the young ones. So we need these young bloods to also carry the team."
With their fortunes turning out for the better in the draft, Che'lu is looking for more of the same good luck moving forward after back-to-back runner-up finishes in the previous two conferences. – Rappler.com