MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan Valley and Big Chill look to complete the final four cast Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
But despite owning a twice-to-beat advantage, the Rising Suns and the Superchargers know they’re in for a grind.
“We have an opportunity to get even but our focus is to get to the next level. Cebuana was really impressive in their past two games so we have to play defense for 40 minutes,” said Cagayan head coach Alvin Pua, whose squad battles the Gems in the first game at the Arena in San Juan.
“If we can keep the game close and be consistent with our defensive effort I think we have a chance,” added Pua.
Cebuana Lhuillier, which beat out Fruitas for the last playoffs spot, topped Cagayan 86-82 in the elimination round.
“They (Cagayan) are playing solid but right now we really don’t care who we play. We’re just happy to make the quarters despite all the troubles we’ve encountered in the elims. Who knows we might be lucky again,” said Cebuana coach Beaujing Acot.
The Gems got a much-needed push when they signed James Martinez to provide firepower in their offense.
Also looking for more help, the Suns added point guard Julius Pasculado, a PBA draft pick by Alaska in 2011.
Fourth seed Big Chill on the other hand, barely escaped no. 5 Air21-JRU 77-76 on a buzzer-beater by Mark Canlas in their elimination round match.
“This game against JRU is gonna be tough so we are going all out to win and take out of our minds that we are in a twice-to-beat advantage situation,” Big Chill coach Robert Sison said.
The Superchargers will be without their top scorer Terrence Romeo, who would be out at least six weeks due to a hairline fracture on his right hand, an injury he suffered during their loss to Informatics last January 17.
“It will be tough playing without Terrence (Romeo). Every player should step their game up in Terrence’s absence,” said Sison, who expects a physical match against JRU.
The Heavy Bombers have been on a roll as of late and head coach Vergel Meneses believes his team can pull off the upset.
“I’m pleased with our showing in our maiden stint in the D-League. The players have shown maturity the past couple of games and their confidence level is high. I have no doubts on their ability. I know they can compete against any team in this league. All we need is some consistency in our game,” Meneses said.