Big Chill, Cebuana eye piece of D-League lead
MANILA, Philippines — Big Chill and Cebuana Lhuillier brace for tough outings against unpredictable opponents Sunday as they gun for a share of the lead in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Superchargers go for back-to-back wins against the revamped Cagayan Valley at 2 p.m. while the Gems seek the same target versus Derulo Accelero at 10 a.m.
Blackwater Sports and Jumbo Plastic, both coming off tough losses last week, vie for their first victory in the 12 noon schedule of the day’s triple-bill.
“Right now it’s hard to figure their strength, but certainly, we’re not taking them lightly,” Big Chill coach Robert Sison said of the Rising Suns, who are playing with eight new players.
Despite losing main man Reil Cervantes to Blackwater, the Superchargers still came out looking like title contenders as they raced to an early double-digit advantage in their 81-73 triumph over Hog’s Breath Cafe.
“The guys are stepping up and filling the void left by Cervantes and (Juneric) Baloria,” Sison said of his Superchargers, the losing finalists to five-time champion NLEX last conference.
The Rising Suns also looked competitive on opening day despite their retooled roster, but unfamiliarity perhaps kicked in at crunch time as they blew a 19-point cushion against Boracay Rum for a 69-79 setback.
Blackwater also gave NLEX a hard time as they grabbed an early lead only to falter in the second half and took a lopsided 84-102 loss.
This time, the Elite also have to deal with the absence of Cervantes, who got slapped with a one-game suspension and a P5,000 fine for punching NLEX center Ola Adeogun in their last outing.
Unlike the Elite, the Gems downed a favored squad as they clipped last conference’s quarterfinalist Jumbo Plastic, 60-54.
But coach Boycie Zamar thinks more effort is needed even if his Gems are favored against the Oilers.
“Hopefully, we could build on [our first win],” said Zamar. “I expect Derulo to come out aggressive next game so we have to stay focused.”
Although the Gems no longer have the core of University of the East, where Zamar surprisingly got the boot recently, they still have reliable veterans led by Bam Gamalinda and Alvin Padilla.