AFTER REACHING the semifinals for the first time and falling a win short of a championship appearance, Saint Clare College of Caloocan has slightly reformatted its roster in time for the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup as the team will now be known as BRT Sumisip-Saint Clare College of Caloocan. The Saints have entered a tie-up with the municipality in Basilan Province in the hopes of claiming a first ever trophy in the country’s top amateur basketball tournament.
The reigning three-peat National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) champions lost to Centro Escolar University in the best of three semifinals, 2-1. The Saints earlier compiled a 6-3 win-loss record in the eliminations and immediately disposed of Metropac Movers-San Beda University in the twice to beat quarterfinals, 65-60.
Being a school-based team, almost all of the players from the last D-League conference will be back led by Most Valuable Player nominees Joshua Fontanilla and Junjie Hallare and international student Mohamed Pare from Mali. Other returnees are Irven Palencia, Rojay Santos, Raymond Rubio, Aeron Decano, Clarence Tiquia and Jherald Manacho along with Saint Clare alumni Darwin Lunor and Fil-Am Christian Vonne Rivera and Joseph Penaredondo who sat out the first conference.
Reinforcing the team will be Jerrald Bautista, the former STI College Olympians star who gave Saint Clare a lot of problems during his stint in the NAASCU as well as another NAASCU veteran in Chris Dumapig who once dribbled for CEU. Completing the 15-man list is guard Harold Ng from Adamson University.
A major change will be on the bench as Stevenson Tiu, formerly of Che’Lu Bar and Jumbo Plastic, takes over the head coaching job with Saint Clare coach Jinino Manansala assuming the role of assistant coach together with Jerson Cabiltes, Joseph Guion and JR Manansala with team consultant 1978 PBA Rookie of the Year Jimmy Manansala. Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem and Julz Hataman will be the team owners with Jackson Chua and Jessie Angchonghoo as the team managers.
The Saints will make their conference debut on July 25 when they face fellow Mindanao-based squad Alberei Kings-Zamboanga in the featured contest at 5:30 PM at the Paco Arena. Both teams are part of Group B that also includes Black Mamba Energy Drink, Hyperwash Laundromat Vipers, Italianos Homme Shoes, Technological Institute of the Philippines and NAASCU rival McDavid-De La Salle Araneta University.