MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan Valley’s chances to clinch an outright semifinals berth in the PBA D-League Apirants Cup lies in its hands.
And head coach Alvin Pua knows the Rising Suns have what it takes to pull it off.
“I keep telling my boys this is their chance to shine. We have an opportunity to make it to the semi-finals outright, so why not go for it,” declared Pua, whose squad battles undermanned Fruitas Tuesday at the Jose Rizal University Gym in Mandaluyong City.
But it won’t be a walk in the park for Cagayan (5-3), which is just behind second-place Blackwater Sports (6-2) for the last automatic semis slot.
The Shakers won’t have center Ola Adeogun for the second straight game due to a recurring injury as well as backup big Martin Antonio, who will serve his one-game suspension after a flagrant foul penalty 2 against Air21-JRU’s John Villarias in their previous game.
Antonio was also fined P5,000 by PBA Commissioner Chito Salud.
But Fruitas, which is in a precarious position to make the quarterfinals at 4-4, will still be a dangerous team to play against with explosive scorer Carlo Lastimosa in tow.
“With a complete line-up we are a good match up with Cagayan but with Ola still out, other guys will have to step forward and plug the holes. Hopeful that our desire to win will outweigh our disadvantages,” said Fruitas coach Nash Racela, whose team tries to rebound after absorbing a surprising 64-100 beatdown versus the Heavy Bombers last Tuesday.
JRU (4-4) hopes to continue their winning ways against also-ran Erase Xfoliant (2-6), losers of five games in a row which will be handled by new coach Caloy Garcia.
The Rising Suns, who scored a 77-59 rout over sliding Big Chill last Tuesday, have to win their last two games to unseat the Elite in second spot.
Defending champion NLEX has already clinched the first outright semis slot after finishing the elimination round with a 9-1 mark.