Cignal-San Beda, Racal duel for all the marbles
Racal coach Jerry Codiñera pulled off a surprise when he started seldom-used big man Joseph Gabayni. That gamble paid off as the Tile Masters forged a winner-take-all championship showdown against Cignal-San Beda in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
So expect more of the unpredictable when Racal and Cignal-San Beda fight for the crown in Game 3 Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
“Do-or-die affairs are all about the players,” said Cignal coach Boyet Fernandez as his Hawkeyes try to recapture the solid form in their Game 1 win, 93-85.
“We just have to prepare our players and let them play,” he added. “ It’s no longer about the X and Os. Who really wants the championship will win.”
Codiñera hopes that just like in Game 2, which they won in a 100-90 decision, the Racal bench will backstop team leaders Rey Nambatac, Jackson Corpuz and Kent Salado.
“We’re happy that we’re able to equalize, but we’ll continue to adjust and give our best,” said Codiñera.
The Cignal players admitted to have felt the pressure of a sweep bid, but Robert Bolick, Jason Perkins and Pamboy Raymundo vow to end the series in their favor.
“We’ll come back stronger,” said Bolick, who was named Most Valuable Player of the conference.
Fernandez said he believed the Hawkeyes had picked up lessons from Game 2 and expected them to rebound from their lackluster showing.
“We lost on our poor effort,” he said. “But we’re staying positive. It’s just a matter of us seeing what really happened [in Game 2] and regroup again. I’m sure we’ll be ready.”