D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinal tiffs sizzle
“They both have the mentality of winners,” said Fernandez. “We could have given up in Game 2, but the boys stepped up. They didn’t want to go home.”
Riding high on their stirring Game 2 victory, the Hawkeyes, top seeds at the end of the elimination round, battle the Tanduay Rhum Masters at 5 p.m. in the deciding game of their 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals on Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Hawkeyes, who also boast a star-studded lineup like the Road Warriors handled by Fernandez, are facing their toughest challenge yet in their debut season.
Hurdling Tanduay is easier said than done as the veteran-laden Rhum Masters are equally motivated to nail a finals berth for the second straight tournament.
Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson said there was no shortage of motivation for his squad in the sudden-death game.
“How badly we want to make it back to the Finals is an understatement, but we know that it won’t be handed to us on a silver platter,” he said. “We have to dig deep, bite and claw to be able to survive. Still, I’m very confident of our chances.”
It will be a historic playdate for the league since both semifinals series are going to sudden death with Cafe France and Racal clashing at 3 p.m. for the other finals berth.
Coach Jerry Codiñera, whose Tile Masters are seeking a first finals appearance, expects another dogfight with the Bakers.
“We have to be patient,” said Codiñera, whose squad took Game 1, 88-86, on a Sidney Onwubere triple at the buzzer. “Anything can happen, so we have to keep our poise.”
Cafe France coach Egay Macaraya will bank on Paul Desiderio, Rod Ebondo, and Joseph Sedurifa.