MANILA, Philippines – Raring to bounce back, Cagayan Valley and Big Chill take the stage against separate lower-ranked foes Tuesday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
The Rising Suns look to rebound from their 75-84 loss to defending champion NLEX against Air21-JRU while the Superchargers hope to shake off their two-game slump when they battle Erase Xfoliant at the Emilio Aguinaldo College gym.
The Heavy Bombers and the Erasers may be teams fighting to stay alive for a playoff spot but Cagayan head coach Alvin Pua as well as Big Chill mentor Robert Sison know their respective teams will be pushed to their limits come game time.
“JRU is a tough team. But we are motivated. Every game for us is a must win. Hopefully, that mindset will land us in the playoffs,” said Pua, who doesn’t see his team’s 14-day layoff as a factor.
“Erase is a dangerous team. Their scorers can explode any given time. Coach Aric (del Rosario) is a veteran coach and he has in his shoulders the winning formula of winning games,” said Sison.
Both the Rising Suns and the Superchargers are mired in a four-team tie in second place along with surging Blackwater and surprising Cafe France, which stopped NLEX’s historic 24-game winning streak last Tuesday.
A win for Cagayan and Big Chill would boost their bid for an all-important outright semifinals bid.
“We know how tight the race for the outright semis berth is and it is important for us to win against Erase,” said Sison.
Defense had been the Superchargers dilemma in their previous games and that’s what Sison worked on as his team prepares for a crucial stretch.
The Rising Suns are one of the league’s top scoring teams but they also give up a lot on the defensive end of things.
Fortunately for them, lockdown defender Chris Exciminiano will be back in full form after playing sparingly versus NLEX due to an injury.
Aside from Exciminiano, the Suns also need top rebounder Raymond Almazan to get back on track after a sub-par performance the last time out.
JRU (1-4) and Erase (2-4) are expected to go all out to remain in contention for a quarterfinals seat.