It’s the clash of two quarterfinals seeking teams as sixth running CafeFrance goes head to head against seventh place Blackwater Sports in the final stretch of the PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup elimination round today at the JCGSO gym in Cubao city.
Game time is at 12 nn and a win for the Bakers (7-4) will assure them of an automatic quarterfinals slot.
The Elite (6-5) however are expected to come out with everything they have as the reigning foundation cup champions won’t go down without a fight. The Leo Isaac-mentored team was poised to make the quarterfinals just two weeks ago but losses to QFs bound NLEX (103-86) and Hog’s Breath (73-63) pushed them to the brink of elimination.
They will be having their hands full against a solid Bakers squad led by Best Player of the Conference front runner Rod Ebondo manning the paint.
The towering slotman out of Cameroon totes an average of 11 points, 11 rebounds and two shot blocks per game making him a headache to every team that they’ll be facing.
Add to it the fact that he will now be backed by another solid big man in Jam Cortes who transferred from doom-spelled Arellano-Air 21 to CafeFrance just this month and made a solid debut in their 93-68 loss to NLEX last week with 21 points.
The Elite will look at big men Pari Llagas, Gio Ciriacruz and Gilbert Bulawan to try and stop the duo and hopefully their two game losing skid in the process.
A win here for the Elite would put them at a tie with the Bakers at sixth place with a game to go in the tournament.
Blackwater would then have to beat Cebuana after their match against CafeFrance if they want to have a shot at making the quarters. CafeFrance has a lighter schedule ahead as they’re just set to face league doormats Arellano-Air 21 to close out their eliminations campaign.
NLEX (9-1) on the other hand looks to solidify its hold on an outright semis birth as it targets its seventh straight victory when it faces cellar-dwelling Derulo Accelero (1-10) in the final game.
A win here for Road Warriors would put them in a tie with idle league leaders Big Chill at first place and would assure them of an outright semifinals slot regardless of what happens in their final two games.
Despite the obvious advantage that the defending champions has over its overmatched foe, coach Boyet Fernandez isn’t taking any chances.
“We just have to be careful. We can’t take Derulo lightly because we’re looking at an outright semis birth. This is an important stretch for us,” Fernandez said.
Cebuana Lhuillier (5-6) will look to continue ending its season in on a high note as it targets its second straight victory against National University-BDO (2-8) in the second game of the triple header. (Christian Angelo Jacinto)