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Cignal's Fernandez to put premium on defense as titular clash with "NCAA all-star" Racal begins

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Cignal-San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez wants his players to tighten up on defense as they are set to face what he believes is a stellar Racal lineup in Game 1 of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Finals on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

"I think it's an all-star team. If you are gonna beat an all-star team, you have to play defense," said Fernandez.

While Fernandez boasts an impressive portfolio, winning six titles in the D-League with NLEX before the franchise jumped to the PBA, he is wary of what Coach Jerry Codiñera can bring to the table in their best-of-three showdown especially that the concurrent Arellano mentor has direct knowledge of what his players, mostly from the NCAA, can do.

"I really respect Coach Jerry. I know Coach Jerry is expecting a lot from us," continued Fernandez.

Aside from Kent Salado, Donald Gumaru, and Lervin Flores, who are under Codiñera's tutelage at Arellano, the PBA's "Defense Minister" also has Letran's Rey Nambatac, EAC's Sidney Onwubere, Perpetual Help's Gab Dagangon, and former Lyceum player Joseph Gabayni, who just transferred to Arellano and will join the team in next year's NCAA season.

But with the key players from San Beda's NCAA champion team headlining Cignal's roster, expect Fernandez to rely on his wards' cohesion come their 4 p.m. clash with the Tile Masters.

"It's an all-star NCAA lineup on the other side. We have a core. At the end of the day, it's about who wants to win," he further quipped.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno
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