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Quezon 'staying underdog' ahead of PSL finals vs Nueva Ecija

Quezon looks to stay low-key to pull off a surprise against Nueva Ecija in the PSL Finals. PSL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Quezon entered the PSL semifinals against Binan as heavy underdogs, but if there is such a thing as an "underdog mindset", that mindset worked as the Titans zapped the life out of the Tatak Gel and swept them in the best-of-three de facto Southern Conference Finals.

Will Gozum hopes that Quezon can keep that mindset to deliver the upset ax to Nueva Ecija in the PSL Finals which begins on Tuesday night at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan.

"Siguro ang mentality lang namin is to stay as underdogs sa game na ito," Gozum said during the pre-finals press conference on Monday at Gloria Maris Greenhills.

While one could argue that the Capitals are the favorites for this best-of-five series, this could still be an acid test for them to prove that they remain as a team to watch out in the regional leagues since some of their key players and former head coach Jerson Cabiltes are now with other teams.

On the other hand, the Titans, also known as the Huskers in the MPBL, are virtually intact from last year featuring their young core led by Gozum, the NCAA Season 98 MVP.

"It's gonna be a challenge because they got some young guns over there--energetic and hungry. Hopefully, we can execute our system against a young team," said current Nueva Ecija head coach Don Dulay.

Commissioner Allan Caidic is anticipating a mammoth crowd at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum for Games 1 and 2 of the PSL Finals.

"We all know naman na ang Palayan City is talagang basketball fanatic," Caidic said, noting how the said arena has been jam-packed every time the Capitals/Rice Vanguards franchise has been playing home games there since their 2022 MPBL championship run.

Because they hold a homecourt edge, Nueva Ecija gets to host the deciding Game 5 if the series reaches full length, but Dulay is downplaying that advantage.

"From experience, homecourt advantage is good, especially playing with the fans of Nueva Ecija, but homecourt advantage doesn't mean anything," said Dulay, who already experienced blowing homecourt edge when his former team, Davao Occidental, lost the 2019 MPBL Finals to San Juan on a game-winner by Jhonard Clarito right in the decider in Davao City.

"The ball is round. Anything can happen, so if you're team is not ready, even if you have homecourt advantage, it doesn't matter."

Games 3 and 4 will be played at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena, where a huge pro-Titans crowd is expected too.

In an appetizer, the Tatak Gel and the Kings dispute third place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, right before Game 1 of the Titans-Capitals series at 8 p.m.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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