Cignal, Flying V brace for tougher Marinero, CEU as they try to forge finals clash

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--Flying V may be 11-0 in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup right now

But Coach Eric Altamirano now sees CEU as the biggest threat to his team's unblemished record considering its gallant stand in Game 1 of the semifinals last Thursday.

“That’s why it’s called the playoffs. Tumaas talaga yung level ng CEU,” the soft-spoken mentor said.

The Thunder look to eliminate the Scorpions as they collide anew in Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Tuesday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

For Altamirano, defending CEU's interior is the key.

“We need to do a better job controlling the rebounds and blocking out their bigs. We just have to continue doing that. We’re gonna need that especially in the second game and we hope na matapatan namin yung level nila,” said the mentor ahead of the 5 p.m. game.

The said statement somehow implies that Rod Ebondo, who tallied 20 points and 27 rebounds for the Scorpions in Game 1, is the marked man for Game 2, but he vows to finally give the Thunder their very first loss and force a rubber match on Thursday.

“In basketball, nothing is impossible. This is a do-or-die for us,” he said. “We just have to come back stronger. We hope that we give our best and play hard to force a Game 3.”

Meanwhile, Cignal coach Boyet Fernandez remains wary that Marinerong Pilipino will bounce back strongly in Game 2 of their own semifinal series at 3 p.m.

“Marinero is always there in the game even though they were down by so many points. It will be tough again facing them because I'm pretty sure that Coach Koy (Banal) will really prepare hard for us. We’ll watch the tape and look what are our advantages and really try to be methodical enough to really prepare against Marinerong Pilipino,” he said.

Luckily for Fernandez, Gilas' SEA Games team member Toto Jose, who starred in the Hawkeyes' Game 1 win, will be available for the potential Tuesday clincher.

Banal, on the other hand, expects the Skippers to come in at their best form as their Cinderella run is on the line.

“I just asked the players if they really want to play, if they still have the desire to play in the semis. We’ve seen their capabilities and we did not play in our maximum potential. That’s what we’re expecting from them to bring in on Tuesday,” he said.

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