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Hapee, Cagayan clash

Ronnie Magsanoc

Magsanoc sees a defense-minded finals

Expect a lot of bumping, pushing and shoving when Hapee Toothpaste and Cagayan Valley begin their best-of-three showdown for the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown today at The Arena in San Juan.

The Fresh Fighters and the Rising Suns clash at 3 p.m. with observers believing the series will go the distance as both teams have almost the same depth and firepower.

As for Cagayan Coach Alvin Pua, he sees the title duel as being more physical than during his team’s semifinal victory over Cebuana Lhuillier last Thursday.

“It’s hard to predict how long the series will take. But I’m very certain the level of physicality to be a lot tougher,” said the temperamental Pua.

The Rising Suns are out to write a different chapter than in their first finals stint in 2013 when they were swept by the NLEX Road Warriors in the Foundation Cup finals.

Cagayan carries the psychological advantage, having beaten Hapee, 80-77, on a game-winning triple by guard Abel Galliguez with one second remaining.
Pua said the Fresh Fighters are a star-studded team but believes his troops are just as talented.

“We are looking at a defensive oriented series,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc, who has urged his chargers to focus on the things that help them match-up with Cagayan’s high octane offense.

Coming off a two-week break, the Fresh Fighters are understandably motivated to get back at the Rising Suns, who dealt them their only loss in the eliminations.

“We must be ready to handle and level up with the physicality of the series,” Magsanoc said.

Hapee, which made the finals after sweeping CaféFrance in the semis, is aching to avenge its elims defeat to Cagayan, believing that they let the Rising Suns off the hook by blowing a double-digit lead.

Magsanoc will again lean on by Bobby Ray Parks, Garvo Lanete, Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun and Troy Rosario.

Cagayan, for its part, is going to have Galliguez, top rookie pick Moala Tautuaa and Don Trollano.