IF BUSINESSMAN Jonito Racal can put up two competitive basketball teams, think of the possibilities if both these teams merge. That will be the scenario as Caida Tiles, formerly the KeraMix Mixers, compete in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup later this month.
The Tilemasters are a product of the merger with sister team Kama Motors, with the former as the surviving entity. During the long offseason, Racal set up Caida and Kama to compete in the inaugural Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Founders Cup that saw Caida finish runner-up to former D-League member Jumbo Plastic last month.
Caida will bank heavily on the guard tandem of PCBL Most Valuable Player Billy Ray Robles and national player Jiovani Jalalon. Jalalon played for KeraMix in the 2015 Foundation Cup but was “loaned” to Jumbo Plastic for two playoff games after the Mixers got eliminated.
However, head coach Carlos Garcia is excited with the acquisition of top rookie pick Jason Perkins of De La Salle University. The 6’3” wide-bodied Perkins will definitely give the team the inside presence they missed in their previous campaigns.
Shoring up the frontline will be 6’6” Christopher Javier, a transfer from Jumbo Plastic. With a legitimate center in their fold, the likes of Dexter Maiquez, Jackson Corpuz and even Roider Cabrera can now return to playing the forward position after manning the slot in the PCBL.
A surprise could be sprung from Jonathan Grey, who together with Cabrera, are the only former Kama players that were absorbed into the team. Injuries limited the Saint Benilde forward to only two games but his averages ranked among the tournament leaders.
Robles and Jalalon will be supported in the backcourt by Joseph Terso and ex-pro Julius Pasculado. Completing the initial 12-man lineup are Janus Lozada and rookie Ryan Pascual, an unsigned second round pick by AMA Online Education in the last draft.
Two more spots are expected to be filled just in time for the Aspirants Cup opening on January 21 at the San Juan Arena starting at 1:00 PM. Caida will have the honor of playing in the season’s first game against a revamped Tanduay Rhum side of Coach Lawrence Chongson.
Coach Garcia will be assisted Michael Buendia, Ricky Umayam and Robert Guevarra with Nic Caperida as team manager. Coach Buendia was Caida’s head coach during its PCBL stint.
As Racal Motors and then as KeraMix, the franchise failed to make the playoffs in both tournaments last season and finished with a combined 7-13 win-loss card. Coach Garcia replaced Coach Jino Manansala three games into the last Aspirants Cup as Racal Motors also ended its partnership with the Saint Clare College of Caloocan varsity.
Aside from Caida and Tanduay, the rest of the Aspirants Cup field is composed of Foundation Cup champion CafeFrance-CEU, Phoenix Petroleum-FEU, JAM Liner-UP, Banco de Oro-NU, Wang’s Basketball, AMA Online Education and Mindanao Aguilas. With a retooled roster and after experiencing the feeling of winning, the Tilemasters are a sure force to be reckoned with.