Armed with twice-to-beat advantages, top contenders Caida and Phoenix-Petroleum try to finish off their respective rivals on Tuesday and clinch semifinals spots in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Fioil-Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
The Tile Masters, seeded at second, square off with No. 7 AMA U Titans in the 2 p.m. opener while the third-ranked Accelerators, built around the core of reigning UAAP men’s cage titlist Far Eastern U, renew their rivalry with No. 6 BDO-National U at 4 o’clock.
Caida defeated AMA U 103-84 in their initial meeting last Jan. 26 and finished the elimination round with five straight victories but coach Caloy Garcia warned his charges not to fall into any false sense of complacency.
“The important thing starts in the next round. We can’t afford to lose in the next round and give our opponents more confidence,” said Garcia, adding the Tile Masters need to work further on improving their defensive intensity.
“Maganda naman ‘yung takbo ng team namin. Nasanay na sila with the calls,” he said. “We just have to work on our defense kasi ‘yung offense naman namin, we’re good,” he said. ”We’re just looking on how to beat AMA and how to finish them in one game.”
Tipped to carry more of the load for Caida are top guard Jiovani Jalalon, top pick Jason Perkins, gunners Philip Paniamogan and Jonathan Grey.
AMA U coach Mark Herrera is expected to lean mainly on the 1-2 scoring punch of Jerramy King and Rashawn McCarthy.
A fair share of the spotlight is expected to fall on the main match, with the Accelerators looking to repeat a 90-74 win over the Bulldogs last Feb. 22.
Phoenix Petroleum coach Eric Gonzales, however, believes it’s easier said than done. “You cannot take them for granted. They have a very good coaching staff and they have a very good system.
“Hindi ‘yun madaling kalaban,” he said.
Gonzales earlier admitted wingman Roger Pogoy and center Raymar Jose are good to-go, giving him a pair of solid backups who could help ease the offensive load usually shouldered by top guns Mac Belo and Ed Daquioag, who combined for 46 markers in Phoenix’s 90-80 win over eliminated Mindanao Aguilas last week.
With BDO-National U coach Eric Altamirano tipped to lean on Cameroon import Alfred Aroga and J-Jay Alejandro, Gonzales feels they are in for a tough match, saying: “It’s not going to be easy playing against them. So at the start pa lang, we need to play our A-game.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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