Despite coming in as the two-seed, Cignal HD coach Boyet Fernandez believes that his side is at a disadvantage against Mari-nerong Pilipino in their best-of-three semifinals series in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
“If you look at it, we’re the underdog. We lost to Marinero twice: one prac-tice game, one in the elimi-nations,” he said, recounting the Hawkeyes’ 66-65 defeat to the Skippers on June 8.
Add to that the arrival of key figures like Robbie Herndon and Renzo Subi-do to the opposition and we may just be bracing for an upset. “They have a totally different line-up from when we faced them,” said Fernandez.
But Cignal has no other choice but to take this challenge head on as Game 1 of the semis begins on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Fernandez will be counting on Raymar Jose, Jason Perkins, and Pamboy Raymundo to stop the tidal wave of Marinerong Pili-pino in their 5 p.m. tussle.
“We’ll find a way to match-up with them. We’re excited right now, we’re excited that we made it to the semis right away, but we’ll try to find ways to win against Marinero,” the veteran mentor said.
Skippers coach Koy Banal, meanwhile, is firm in his belief that the Skip-pers’ miracle run, which now stretches to seven games, could still continue in the semifinals.
“Meron bang limit ang Diyos? Walang limit ang Diyos. Pero again, hindi ganoon kadali ang Cignal considering na we will only have one day of preparation. So again, we will just rely on the right hand of God, the grace of God,” he said after his side erased a twice-to-win situation and eliminated Tanduay in the quarters.
In the other series, unbeaten top-seed Flying V wants nothing but to sustain its flawless run in the deve-lopmental league as it stakes its 10-game winning streak against Centro Escolar University at 3 p.m.
However, Thunder coach Eric Altamirano acknowledges that the elimination sweep will be moot if his team doesn’t get the job done.
“Of course, it will be a let down if di namin ma-translate itong sweep to wins in the playoffs. At the end of the day, we want to go all the way and win a championship, but we can’t look beyond that yet. We have to hurdle muna yung semis,” he said, as he leans behind Jeron Teng, Gab Banal and Eric Salamat for the tiff.
But what awaits Flying V is a dangerous Scorpions crew, which have suddenly looked like a well-oiled machine that is hungry to score a colossal stunner.
Coach Yong Garcia explained that with huge chips on his players’ shoul-ders, CEU has been playing the games like there’s no tomorrow.
(Yñares Sports Arena, Pasig;
Semifinals Game 1)
3 p.m. – CEU vs Flying V
5 p.m. – Cignal HD vs Marinerong Pilipino