The PBA D-League was conceptualized after the proposed merger of the Philippine Basketball League and Liga Pilipinas failed after holding the Tournament of the Philippines which was composed by PBL and LP teams. Commissioner Chito Salud then proposed the formation of a D-League, which will fill the void left by the PBL. On January 25, 2011, the PBA Board of Governors approved the proposal.
The maiden tournament, named "Foundation Cup" began on March 12, 2011 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan. The tournament composed of 13 teams, with five teams (Junior Powerade, NLEX, Maynilad, Freego and Cafe France) having affiliation with existing PBA teams. Four teams (Cobra Energy Drink, Agri-Nature Inc./FCA, Pharex, and Cafe France) from the Philippine Basketball League filed for application in the PBA D-League, when they failed to acquire a sixth team in order to smoothly run the league. The NLEX Road Warriors became the champions of the tournament, winning two games to none against the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems.
The second tournament, dubbed as the "Aspirant's Cup" began on October 20. Four teams (Maynilad, Junior Powerade, Max Bond and Pharex) did not join the tournament. However, two new teams (Boracay Rhum and Informatics Icons) made their debut in the D-League.