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Hapee faces Cagayan today

Games Thursday Ynares Arena, Pasig City
12 n.n. – MP Hotel vs Cebuana Lhuillier
2 p.m. – MJM Builders vs Jumbo Plastic
4 p.m. – Hapee vs Cagayan Valley

League-leader Hapee tests the mettle of Cagayan Valley in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup on Thursday.

Unbeaten in 10 games, the Fresh Fighters attempt to complete a sweep of the elimination round against a team that underwent massive build-up this season in an all-out bid to win its first championship.

Jaded observers consider the 4 p.m. match-up at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City as a preview of the Finals.

“It’s a good challenge for us to see how we will fare against a team with a championship experience. It’s also interesting how my players will compete against one of the toughest teams in the league” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc.

The return of head coach Alvin Pua from a three-game suspension will be a big boost for the Rising Suns, who are coming off a two-week break after chalking up their ninth straight win — an 81-74 rout of Tanduay Light last Jan. 8.

Moala Tautuaa, a US born Fil-Tongan and the no.1 draft pick overall, has been credited for Cagayan’s dominant start. It will certainly be very interesting to see how he will match-up against the equally imposing Ola Adeogun of Hapee.

But while Hapee and Cagayan Valley will be battling for bragging rights and psychological advantage, the coveted no.4 spot will be at stake as Cebuana Lhuillier and Jumbo Plastic winds up their elimination round assignment.

The Gems (6-4) face the MP Hotel Warriors (1-9) at 12 noon while the Giants (6-4) collide with the MJM Builders (3-7) at 2 o’clock.

Cebuana and Jumbo Plastic have secured their places in the next round. The Gems, though, hold the advantage on the strength of the winner of the other rule for the twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

The Warriors and the Builders are already out of the running.