Che’Lu Bar & Grill-San Sebastian College and Centro Escolar University (CEU) take on lower-seeded teams Gamboa Coffee Mix-St. Clare College and Zark’s Burger-Lyceum of the Philippines University, respectively, in the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Aspirants’ Cup 2018 quarterfinals today at the Pasig City Sports Center.
The No. 4 Revellers and the No. 5 Coffee Lovers open the playoff hostilities at 2 p.m. while the No. 3 Scorpions battle the No. 6 Jawbreakers at 4 p.m. Che’Lu-San Sebastian and CEU hold a twice-to-beat advantage apiece.
Head coach Stevenson Tiu is optimistic that his determined Che’Lu squad will finish the series early.
“I’m confident that we will prevail because my players showed eagerness in our practices,” said Tiu.
The veteran mentor bolstered his team’s lineup by adding sharpshooter Jeff Viernes, Cedrick Ablaza and Jay-R Taganas, who are expected to complement with old reliables Samboy De Leon and Alfred Batino.
Jinino Manansala, on the other hand, wants his Gamboa wards to give their all and hope that it will be enough to push them to the semifinals.
“We will just be ready because we know that we have a heavy opponent. We will study their game so we can give them a good fight,” said Manansala.
Manansala will pin his hopes on Filipino-American guard Trevis Jackson, Malian center Mohammed Pare and local standout Aris Dionisio in their bid to force a rubber match.
In their elimination round encounter, the Revellers beat the Coffee Lovers, 79-73.
Meanwhile, CEU coach Yong Garcia is bracing his team for a Rod Ebondo-less game as the Congolese center is still doubtful to play due to a nagging back injury.
“We are preparing for the game without Ebondo,” said Garcia, who also rued their missed chance of getting the top spot following an 87-89 upset to Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Despite the potential absence of Ebondo, Zark’s-Lyceum mentor Topex Robinson still sees themselves as the underdogs in this quarterfinals tiff.
“We are coming in as the underdog in this series against CEU,” said Robinson.
The Scorpions will rely on Judel Fuentes, Orlan Wamar and JJ Manlangit while the Jawbreakers will bank on top gunner CJ Perez, Cameroonian center Mike Harry Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino.
CEU pulled off a 91-85 win over Zark’s in their first tussle of the season-opening conference.