PBA D-League semis unfolds today

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Semifinals actions get underway as four remaining teams start their championship drive in Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinals series of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Aspirants’ Cup today at the Marikina Sports Complex in Marikina City.

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Top-seed Cignal-San Beda braces for a tough challenge when it faces the veteran-laden Tanduay Rhum at 5 p.m. while long time rivals Cafe France and Racal at clash at 3 p.m.

Hawkeyes head coach Boyet Fernandez; owner of six D-League titles, said winning the first game is very crucial especially in a short series.

“It’s very important for us to win Game 1 and take control of the series. Facing Tanduay in the semis is a tough matchup for us. We just have to be ready and prepared for them,” said Fernandez.

Mark Cruz of Tanduay dribbles the ball past Shin Zhi of Blustar Detergent during the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

Riding on the crest on its eight-game winning streak, Cignal knows that the semifinals is a different battle and they have to be ready for the task at hand.

“We’d rather look at it at a game-to-game basis and not mind the streak,” Fernandez added.

The outspoken coach will bank on the services of Jason Perkins, Robert Bolick, and Javee Mocon to lead the charge for Cignal.

Tanduay head coach Lawrence Chongson admitted his squad is the underdog in the series and he trusts his ex-pro players to lead the team.

“We are the underdogs, but we know we have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Teams have to find their own niche. The luxury of a school-based team is their chemistry so I have to fine mine, and I think we found a way and we thought that going with the ex-pros is the way to go,” said Chongson.

Chongson is referring to Mark Cruz and Jerwin Gaco, who gave the Rhum Masters a big lift in clinching the semifinals seat.

In the first semis duel, Racal head coach Jerry Codiñera hopes his Tile Masters are ready to face the challenge as they try to reach their first finals appearance in the league.

“It’s a big advantage if we win Game 1. We will just be ready and give it our best shot,” said Codiñera.

Sidney Onwubere, Jackson Corpuz, and Kent Salado will lead the Tile Masters against the Bakers of head coach Egay Macaraya.

Macaraya said their quarterfinals match against Jose Rizal University had opened up his team’s weakness at the perimeter and they need to find a solution on that problem against Racal.

“Our weakness is when the defense goes to a zone. We have to make our jump shots so we can also get the pressure off (Rod) Ebondo in the paint. We have to be consistent,” Macaraya mentioned.

Cafe France will rely on Joseph Sedurifa and Paul Desiderio and Ebondo.

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