Top seeds face streaking foes
Riding high on impressive quarterfinal wins, Cafe France and Tanduay look to topple the top seeds on Tuesday when the best-of-three semifinal series in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup get going at Marikina Sports Center.
After easily disposing of Jose Rizal University, the Bakers seek to grab the headstart in their series with the Racal Tile Masters at 3 p.m., before the Rhum Masters battle Cignal-San Beda Hawkeyes in the opener of their own battle at 5 p.m.
The Hawkeyes are entering the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak that dates back to January. But coach Boyet Fernandez thinks that run will come to nothing if they don’t immediately seize control.
“It’s very important for us to win Game 1 and take control of the series,” said Fernandez, a six-time D-League champion. “We’d rather look at it at a game-to-game basis and not mind the streak.”
Fernandez has his own record to protect as he has not lost in the semifinal stage in his career as D-League coach.
“Facing Tanduay in the semis is a tough matchup for us and we just have to be ready and prepared for them,” he said.
After dropping their opening game to Cafe France, the Hawkeyes have been in fiery form with ex-La Salle star Jason Perkins and San Beda standouts Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon leading the charge.
But the league pioneers Rhum Masters are expected to pull out all the stops to complete an upset of the Hawkeyes.
“We’re the underdogs and we know we have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” said Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson. “Teams have to find their own niche. Cignal has the luxury of chemistry being a school-based team, but I think we found a way and we thought that going with the ex-pros is the way to go.”
The Tile Masters hope to assert themselves early in the series especially against a powerhouse like Cafe France.
“It’s a big advantage if we win Game 1,” said Racal coach Jerry Codiñera, who is gunning for a first finals appearance. “We will just be ready and give it our best shot.”
The Bakers welcome back sniper Joseph Sedurifa to the fray as he joins forces with University of the Philippines star Paul Desiderio and Centro Escolar center Rod Ebondo in leading Cafe France back to the finals.