Motivated to complete a season sweep, Phoenix is eyeing to snare the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup title in Game 2 of its best-of-3 Finals series against Tanduay today at Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
But coach Eric Gonzales knows that doing that won’t be an easy feat, especially after the close Game 1 affair where the Accelerators needed heroics from Mac Belo to eke out an 84-76 victory.
“We have to play together. What is important is we sprinted back on defense,” he said, knowing that the defense must hold up for the offensively gifted Phoenix.
Gonzales will have no qualms banking on go-to guys Belo, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, and Roger Pogoy, who all showed their worth to the lead up to the championship duel.
“Even if they were struggling, we have to be patient because I know in the end, I have to trust them,” he said.
Rhum Masters coach Lawrence Chongson, though, believes that Game 1 is just a game that slipped out of Tanduay’s clutches.
“A little more polish on the defense,” he said. “In this game, we were leading for more than 23 minutes. But we missed some crucial free throws during crunch time. All we need is just a little adjustment.”
Putting a lot of belief in his wards, Chongson is optimistic that his crew, bannered by Gelo Alolino, Kevin Ferrer, and Val Acuna, are ready to bounce back strong when the do-or-die affair tips off at 4:30 p.m.
“I have faith in my players because just like in semifinals, it’s in the knockout stage that we awaken and go all-out,” he said. “We might have been a little too confident and relaxed. But in a do-or-die game as though there is no tomorrow, that is when we bounce back.”
The conference’s Most Valuable Player will also be hailed before Game 2, with Phoenix’s Mike Tolomia, Cafe France’s Carl Bryan Cruz, and Racal’s Jonathan Grey emerging as favorites to win the plum.
Alonte Sports Arena,
(Game 2 of Best-of-3 Finals;
Accelerators lead series, 1-0)
4:30 p.m. Phoenix vs Tanduay