Unbeaten top seed Flying V battles Centro Escolar University (CEU) at the start of the best-of-three semifinal series of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Riding on the crest of a 10-game winning streak, the Thunder go for their 11th straight win against the Scorpions at 3 p.m. while semifinals gate-crasher Marinerong Pilipino takes on Cignal HD at 5 p.m.
Flying V head coach Eric Altamirano said his team is not looking to have a perfect record in their maiden campaign in the league rather their focus is to win each game as they expect a tough grind from CEU.
“We want to go to the championships but we cannot look beyond that. We have to hurdle the semifinals first before thinking how we would play there,” said Altamirano, who will be counting on Jeron Teng, Eric Salamt and Gab Banal.
Scorpions coach Yong Garcia admitted they would be facing the tournament favorites that’s why he wants his players to treat each game like a championship match.
“I told them to treat every game as a championship game. We did not expect to come this far but with teamwork, we reached the semifinals. And we will do our best to move-up to the next level,” said Garcia.
The Scorpions will lean on JK Casino, Rod Ebondo, Art Aquino and Orlan Wamar Jr.
In the other semis pairing, the Hawkeyes face the streaking Skippers, who beat the twice-to-beat Tanduay Rhum in their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Cignal mentor Boyet Fernandez admitted that Marinerong Pilipino has their numbers, losing to Koy Banal-squad in a tune-up and in their lone elimination meeting in the tournament.
“We lost to Marinero twice and they have new line-up today. So, we are expecting much tougher game against them,” said Fernandez, whose team will be led by Raymar Jose, Jason Perkins, and Pamboy Raymundo.
The Skippers are on a roll that pushed them this far and Banal hopes they can sustain the momentum against the No. 2 seed Hawkeyes.
“We will put our thrust and rely on the right hand of God. We know it is not easy to win a game against Cignal considering we only have one day to prepare. But it is not an excuse for my players not to work hard and play their all on Thursday,” said Banal.
Marinerong Pilipino is coming off 65-64 upset win over the Rhum Masters to secure the last semifinals seat.
New recruit Robby Herndon, Renzo Subido and Achie Iñigo will lead the charge of the Skippers. JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID