|PBA (file photo)|
By Dugout Philippines
MANILA--For the first time in PBA D-League history, both semifinals series go on a sudden death as the last four remaining teams slug it out for the right to earn a ticket to the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals.
Cafe France and Racal both seek to end another chapter in their storied rivalry, while the youthful Cignal-San Beda and veteran Tanduay squad tussle it out on Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
For Tile Masters coach Jerry Codinera, it’s a matter of steering his squad to an unchartered territory as they gun to finally break the glass ceiling and move past the semifinals.
“Again, we know the name of the game is we have to be patient, so sabi ko lang sa mga bata, we’ll try to keep things simple. Anything can happen so kailangan nandoon yung poise namin,” he said.
Codinera will bank on Sidney Onwubere, Kent Salado, and Jackson Corpuz in Racal’s aspirations to finally exorcise its demons in the 3 p.m. tiff.
Bakers coach Egay Macaraya, on the other hand, thinks that the team’s experience in the Final Four is enough of an eye-opener for them to finally get their act together as he challenges his crew to step up in what could be the team’s biggest game in this conference.
“I need everybody. I’m wielding the veterans hoping na mag-step up sila. But as a young team, all we could do is motivate the boys,” he said. “We want them to have these life-changing moments, for them to realize that our destiny is to make it back to the Finals.”
Cafe France once again leans on the trio of Paul Desiderio, Rod Ebondo, and Joseph Sedurifa for the winner-take-all duel.
Meanwhile, Hawkeyes coach Boyet Fernandez is convinced that this crew that he has possesses the same attributes that made his past NLEX teams winners.
“It’s really the boys who stepped up and they didn’t want to go home,” he said.
But being in numerous wars before, Fernandez knows that his Cignal crew will once again be in an all-out war against the experienced Tanduay squad. That’s why he’s hoping that the impressive showing of Jason Perkins, Robert Bolick, and Pamboy Raymundo will trickle down to this do-or-die Game 3 for them to advance to the championship series.
“It’s going to be a matter of who wants it more. We challenged them to step up their game and I think they already realized that Tanduay is indeed no pushovers. We just have to be consistent and focused on the game,” he said.
But the Rhum Masters have the same goal in mind, with coach Lawrence Chongson sharing that his team will put it out on the line for the 5 p.m. ballgame.
“How badly we want to make it back to the Finals is an understatement, but we know that it won’t be handed to us in a silver platter,” he said. “We have to dig deep, bite and claw to be able to survive. Still, I’m very confident of our chances.”
Ex-pros Mark Cruz, Jerwin Gaco, and Lester Alvarez banner Tanduay in the pivotal affair.
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