Cardel eyes Govs’ Cup playoffs for ‘bigger’ Columbian
MANILA, Philippines—Johnedel Cardel feels like Columbian is done being the whipping boys of the PBA, that’s why he is making a playoff appearance as his team’s primary goal in the Governors’ Cup.
“Our goal is to make it to the quarterfinals,” the Dyip’s second-year mentor told the Inquirer on Sunday.
“We’ve proven that we can show up and fight,” he added. “We nearly beat Blackwater, TNT, who were just a bit deeper in personnel.”
Columbian’s brightest spot in the Commissioner’s Cup, where they finished with a 3-8 record, was spoiling the conference debut of perennial powerhouse San Miguel. The Dyip also went on to drag then-defending champion Barangay Ginebra into an overtime thriller and go neck-and-neck with hard-working Magnolia.
Those close encounters, coupled by an influx of new faces and a much-improved CJ Perez is a formula Cardel is itching to test out. He gets that chance this Friday, 4:30 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena against an Alaska side which will now be steered by Jeffrey Cariaso.
The Dyip will now feature Lervin Flores, Joseph Gabayni and Juami Tiongson—all of whom Columbian picked up after dealing away guard Jerramy King and forward Russel Escoto.
“For the longest time, we didn’t have a decent big man. I feel like we’ve become bigger as a team. I got Gabayni, and Flores who plays as a stretch. And then I also gained Tiongson, who for me is an intelligent guard,” Cardel said.
But Cardel stressed that he also wouldn’t want to pin his playoff aspirations solely on his prized rookie, who is coming off a scintillating individual performance in the FIBA World Cup.
Cardel said that Columbian’s victories, as much as its narrow losses against eventual top three seeds of the second conference, have all been possible due to their teamwork, which was anchored by a prolific import—albeit late—in Lester Prosper.
He hopes that has found another gem of a reinforcement in the tireless Khapri Alston.
“He works hard. And I think, the way he contributes and helps his teammates, could lead us to better results,” Cardel said.
“That second conference would’ve been different had Lester arrived earlier,” said Cardel.
Cardel hopes those changes would manifest this season-ending tournament.
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