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Cignal, CEU open titular clash

PBA (file photo)

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Cignal and CEU collide on Tuesday to open the best-of-three PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

The Hawkeyes begin their bid for a D-League grand slam against the gritty Scorpions at 5 p.m.

Cignal, however, will be one key guy less as Toto Jose is currently with Gilas in the ongoing SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

"Losing Raymar during the Finals is a tough one, but we as a team understand that SEA Games basketball gold is very important to our country," said Coach Boyet Fernandez.

With the six-foot-six bruiser out, the Hawkeyes are expected to have a hard time guarding the dominant Rod Ebondo.

But Fernandez expressed wariness as well on guards Aaron Jeruta, JK Casiño, and Orlan Wamar.

"I'm also worried about their guards in the likes of Jeruta, Wamar, and Casiño, so we really have to bring our defensive mentality if we want to win Game 1 and the series," Fernandez continued.

On the other hand, Coach Yong Garcia looks to let the former Cafe France squad have fun in its first D-League finals appearance with its entire UCBL squad.

"Wala namang nag-akala na makakaabot kami rito. Hindi naman masamang subukan kaya sabi ko sa players ko, we just try to stay focused and stick to our gameplan," he said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno