Blackwater, Cebuana try to seal semifinal cast
MANILA, Philippines — Blackwater Sports and Cebuana Lhuillier try to complete the Final Four cast Thursday against separate opponents they barely survived in the eliminations of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
But Blackwater coach Leo Isaac expects his Elite to pick up their game in the quarterfinal round where they tote a twice-to-beat advantage against Cafe France in the 2 p.m. match at Meralco Gym in Pasig.
“We are getting there,” Isaac said of his defending champions. “We’re feeling how it is to be a winning team again.”
Cebuana Lhuillier also needs to win just once in its quarterfinal battle against Big Chill at 4 p.m.
Both the Elite and the Gems hope to make it a quick series to join NLEX (9-0) and Jumbo Plastic (6-3), which both jumped straight to the semifinals after finishing as the top two teams of the eliminations.
“We expect to improve more in the playoffs,” said Isaac, whose Elite nipped the Bakers, 69-67, just last week. “We’re coming in with a positive mindset.”
But aside from being mentally prepared, the Elite also tapped University of the Philippines center Raul Soyud to beef up an already formidable roster bannered by Reil Cervantes, Jericho Cruz and Kevin Ferrer.
The 6-foot-5 Soyud was released by Derulo Accelero Wednesday. While the Elite hope to sustain their surge, the Gems try to regain their hot form after closing out the eliminations with three straight losses.
The Superchargers, though, hope to pounce on the Gems’ recent struggles with Cebuano guard Brian Heruela, Rodney Brondial and Mar Villahermosa at the helm.
“We’ve been in this situation before and we know how hard it is to win,” said Big Chill coach Robert Sison. “But we’ll definitely go all out and give it our best shot.”
The Gems edged the Superchargers, 65-60, in the eliminations behind James Martinez and Bam Gamalinda.