Phoenix five seeks crown vs Tanduay
AS PHOENIX goes for a championship sweep Tuesday, team star Mac Belo thinks the Accelerators should play with urgency.
“We have to treat it as a do-or-die game,” said Belo even if the Accelerators have two chances to bag a second straight crown in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
“The energy that we showed [in Game 1], we should surpass that.”
Phoenix battles a Tanduay Rhum side vying for another comeback in Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 5 p.m. at Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Before the match, the league will honor the conference’s Most Valuable Player with Phoenix’s Mike Tolomia, Cafe France’s Carl Bryan Cruz and Racal’s Jonathan Grey among the leading contenders.
“I trust my players,” said Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson. “Just like in the semifinals, they get a wake-up call during knockout games.”
Riding on the heroics of Belo, the Accelerators got past the tough-fighting Rhum Masters, 84-76, in Game 1 last Thursday.
“We have to play together,” said Phoenix coach Eric Gonzales. “What’s important is we sprint back on defense.”
Belo, last conference’s MVP, powered the Accelerators by unloading 27 of his 30 points in the second half on top of 14 rebounds and three assists in the series opener.
So Gonzales remains confident that Belo, along with other go-to players Ed Daquioag, Roger Pogoy and Tolomia, will again be there to lift the Accelerators.
“Even if someone is struggling, we have to be patient because I know in the end, I have to trust them,” said Gonzales.
But Chongson thinks his Rhum Masters, led by Gelo Alolino, Kevin Ferrer and Val Acuña, have a strong shot at forging a do-or-die title duel.
“We just have to polish our defense a little more,” said Chongson. In [Game 1], we were leading for more than 23 minutes. But at crunch time, we missed some crucial free throws. I think just a few more adjustments and we’ll get it.” Jasmine W. Payo